Publishing in the International Market
Literary Agent, Trident Media Group
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.
Follow Trident Media Group on Twitter
Like Trident Media Group on Facebook