Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Publishing in the International Market by Alexander Slater, Literary Agent

Publishing in the International Market
Literary Agent, Trident Media Group

Think of the world as your marketplace. If your book has an audience in the United States, it can likely find an audience in other countries as well, and the possibilities for growing your career on an international scale are strong when you have an enthusiastic representative with the right connections acting on your behalf. The process is simple on the surface, but the dedication it takes to make the best foreign deals seems more and more uncommon as the industry evolves. Recognizing the importance of that dedication is simply the first step.

To give you the basic rundown, when a publisher buys the rights for your book at home, they can make any number of different offers for your property. If you sell them the world, all language rights, you are trusting the US publisher to be that enthusiastic representative and to take the material to houses in the UK, Germany, Japan, etc. If you keep the translation rights, then your agent will use their skills to submit and negotiate, hopefully, deal after deal after deal. The acquisition process you just went through in the US will then repeat again in an office in Munich or Paris or anywhere: acquisition, offer, agreement and acceptance. Then an entirely new office in a foreign land will prepare your work for their specific readership, and that means hiring a translator, preparing art and catalog copy to suit their specific tastes, and bringing to the public the words you may have never even dreamed would one day be in Chinese. Or Arabic. Or Tagalog. However, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t end there. Just like your career at home, your work abroad needs to be managed, molded, and fought for. It can take upwards of two years from accepting a foreign offer to actually holding a translated edition of your book in your hands. Foreign publishers are known to be slow, but getting fan mail from Brazil, or touring bookstores in Sweden, make it all worth it.

All markets are different. Not many foreign publishers jump at the chance to invest in books about American football or presidents. The US cover art that perfectly encapsulates your story or brand at home might be rejected outright by the publishers in Italy or Poland. It’s usually best to listen to them and trust their expertise. When the world is your market, you must subscribe to the idea that new eyes will approach your story in a completely different way, and an open and accepting mind will always allow for the learning and growth that comes with travel.

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22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thank you again, Alexander!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So interesting to hear about the process of foreign acquisition. And I didn't realize how long it takes to go from contract to having the book published. Thanks for sharing about this, Alex.

Susan Scott said...

And thanks from me too! Encouraging!

Christine Rains said...

Really interesting post. I entertain dreams of doing international book signings. I had no idea it took that long from start to finish.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Foreign rights take a long time. Then again, so does traditional publishing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The long wait would be worth it to have my books read in other languages. A great reason to have an agent.

Michelle Howard said...

I love hearing about the international piece

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks for posting today, Alexander. Your topic is something I knew very little about, so I appreciated your insights. I can see that it is important to hold on to those translation rights! Thanks, Alex, for arranging this post today.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for this post today, Alexander.

Rosalyn said...

Interesting post! The international market fascinates me.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

It all seems very complicated and beyond what I could do myself, but you're so right...a fan letters from all over would be awesome!

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, that does sound like plenty of hoops to jump through. Quite the process

dolorah said...

Thanks for the info Alexander. That is a lot of work. It would be fabulous to see my books in worldwide markets.

Lynda R Young said...

I could tour bookstores in Sweden! I don't doubt for a second all that work and dedication is worth it in the end. Wonderful article, Alexander.

T. Drecker said...

They say that nothing wonderful comes easy, and that having an international readership would be amazing. Thanks for the peek into the process!

J.L. Campbell said...

Plenty of useful advice here and things we writers don't think about.Thanks for sharing these insights with us.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent post. Thank you so much, Alexander!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thank you, Alexander, for an insightful and helpful post on foreign rights. I wonder how fantasy tales from the American Old West would do overseas?

Julie Musil said...

Very interesting. I always like to see the covers from the different countries.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Thank you, Alexander for an interesting post.

Haneen I. Adam said...

okay I confess I had NO idea it's that lot of work concerning foriegn deals, maybe I was a bit naive? I don't know, but thanks for the info it was priceless.

Michelle Wallace said...

Foreign deals involve lots of hard work... and patience too... thanks for the info!