My Job in 5: Inga Bodnarjuka-Mrazauskas

My Job in 5: Inga Bodnarjuka-Mrazauskas

Describe your role
In short, I’m the captain of the ship that brings Latvian literature into the world. My role is to develop and implement strategy for promotion of Latvian literature abroad, which includes participation in international book fairs (and planning and implementing the culture programme at some of them), organising foreign publisher visits, networking activities and working onn building Latvian publishers. We also organise poetry translation workshops and seminars for translators. My work also includes monitoring the local market, catching up with new titles and trends in local and international publishing.

What do you like best about your role?
I’m more of a strategic person; I like to see the whole picture, diagnose the situation, then set long-term and short-term goals. It’s like playing chess. And my heart melts when I see my team feeling good in the playground, them being fans of our work, willing to go forward and try and deal with challenges. This amazing feeling of fun and support at work keeps me motivated.

Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
Latvia, together with its neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, will be the Market Focus at the London Book Fair 2018—that’s my main project. It’s a chance to build a stable ground for the systematic promotion of Latvian literature abroad—there has never been a long-term strategy or system behind it. So, this was my challenge and ambition. When 2016 Latvia signed up with London Book Fair, we had had two books published in the UK, and no direct contact with a publisher. We have 34 new titles coming out in UK between 2017–19, and 90% of those titles were bought after a UK publisher visit. We have several publications from the translation workshops too. So I think my plan worked!

Which skills do you need for your role?
Communication is crucial—you need to be able to communicate with a range of people. For me, it’s important to create the best possible working environment, and I think openness to different people, situations and challenges, and flexibility of mind, enables you to look wider, to react to difficult situationswithout panic, and to keep your mind clear for solutions (often creative ones). You also need to be able to listen to others, analyse situations and react quickly, trust people, delegate tasks, dare to try and learn from mistakes. The main thing you have to have is not a skill: it’s a belief in what you do. It’s the only way to convince others to come with you on the journey.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Be brave, do what you love, think deep and trust your instincts, and always appreciate people working with you.