Tundra Books of Toronto has announced that its foreign rights sales and permissions will now be contracted out to The Cooke Agency International (TCAI). “The move is a natural one for Tundra and offers a resolution to the difficult challenge presented by the resignation of long-term foreign rights director Catherine Mitchell, earlier this year,” said Tundra managing director Alison Morgan. Mitchell resigned in early July after 21 years with Tundra. At the time, she said only, “I’ve done what I can do at Tundra, and it’s time for me to do my next thing,” although she hoped to continue to work in publishing.
Tundra’s decision to hire TCAI is not entirely surprising because the independent arm of The Cooke Agency was created last fall specifically to handle foreign rights sales for Tundra’s parent company McClelland & Stewart and Random House of Canada, which owns a 25% share of M&S.
The creation of TCAI last fall was controversial, particularly with some other agencies that initially expressed concerns that the new agency might have access to their contracts. Suzanne Brandreth, TCAI’s subsidiary rights director, emphatically insisted that they work only from deal memos and did not need to se the contracts. Aside from that concern, the other agents said they felt strongly that they ought to be the ones negotiating international rights for their authors and books, not a competing agency.
M&S and Random House said that much of that criticism has dissipated in the months since and the arrangement is meeting their expectations. M&S president Doug Pepper recently told PW he would welcome more publishers becoming TCAI clients because it would give TCAI more draw at international fairs. ““It’s not a bad thing to do, especially for smaller houses that can’t or have trouble supporting a rights department,” he said.
“We look forward to working with Suzanne Brandreth,” said Morgan. “Authors like Shane Peacock and Ludmila Zeman, who have had great success internationally, will be represented by a team with an excellent reputation, and we look forward to reaping the rewards of this new arrangement.”