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Foreign Book Rights: Multiple Sales of Your Manuscript

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Foreign Rights as well as translations into other languages can be a great way to leverage the value of your manuscript – but don’t expect big numbers right away. Revenue will be an advance and approximately 6 – 10% royalty of the retail price, minus percentage for the agent. It’s also a long-term project as it takes around 18 months until the book is translated and finally available online and in bookstores.

Foreign rights belong to your book’s subsidiary rights.  Like other sub-rights, such as audio, movies, book clubs, paperback reprints, electronic rights, foreign rights can be sold and separated from your book’s primary rights – which you totally own anyway as an independent author-publisher.
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Before you sign a contract: Always first contact your national writers’ association for further information and get legal advice from a lawyer who is specialized in copyright. This could save you several thousand dollars – if not more.

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Let’s Start With the Revenue You Can Get from Your Book’s Retail Price:
Earning possibilities for your book.

  • If you sell your book on your own website ca. 90 – 95%
  • Selling through Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple or other online retailers: up to 70%
  • Selling your manuscripts to a trade publisher, earns a (small) advance and ca. 8 – 10% royalties – but this will be subtracted from the advance and only if you “earn out” your advance, which means the book is really selling well, you receive royalties.
    For most authors the advance is all they really earn.

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If You Want to Let Your Book Translate in World Languages
You can certainly just translate your book and sell it through online retailers worldwide. Most spoken languages beside English (albeit not necessarily e-book readers) are Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, German, Russian, Russian, Portuguese, Bengali, Japanese according to Wikipedia.
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Start With Maximizing Your Foreign Presence – For FREE
To maximize your presence in overseas Amazon Kindle stores, just set up an Author Central account in each of those country-specific sites where your book is available.  As Amazon divided the world in single countries, announce your Countdown Deals, new book launches or Free Kindle KDP Days in several languages: Order at http://www.Fiverr.com a short translation of 10 tweets in Spanish, French, German etc. for $5 / 200 words. The countries with the most usage of eReaders, according due to a survey of Bookboon are USA, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark etc.
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A good idea would also be to join ALLI   
New rights services are growing up online to help authors meet rights buyers directly without having to travel to a book fair and using technology to extend reach. ALLi now has an arrangement with one of these, Pubmatch. Members have access to Putmatch’s premium service through ALLI (usually $79.99) at the deeply discounted rate of $9.99.  Pubmatch will facilitate communication, data warehousing and the simplification of rights marketing for publishers, agents, authors and others, making it the go-to place for the international publishing community to find new titles and new talent.
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International Book Fairs
Do not just turn up at an international book fair, hoping to sell your book. Meetings are arranged well in advance (4-6 months) with acquisitions editors at international publishing houses, to whom new projects are pitched, and new potential publisher customers can be discovered.  
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Top Publisher for French Foreign Rights
If you want to talk about foreign rights with a French publisher one of the biggest in the world, Hachette who are also partnering with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group in China and holds a 25% share of Atticus in Russia.
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Top Publisher for Spanish Foreign Rights – Good for U.S.A. too!
Planeta leads the world’s Spanish-language publishing markets in Spain and Latin America. The company has further strongholds in Portugal and France, where it owns Editis, the country’s second-largest group. Grupo Planeta is present in 25 countries, with more than 100 imprints and a catalogue of 15,000 titles.
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Major agencies, specialized in Foreign Rights:

http://knightagency.net/

http://nelsonagency.com/foreign-rights/

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Choose your foreign rights agent carefully!
Most agents charge 20% (or sometimes even 25%) on foreign sales. This 20% rate is justified because normally two agents are involved (the second one being in the foreign country), and they end up splitting the commission. If you are not represented already, why not try to find agents or even publishers yourself in other countries, especially if you speak more than one language?
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There are things to watch when negotiating foreign rights deals – hopefully an agent will keep an eye on these, but it’s worth knowing about it:

  • Term of the deal:  Five years is most common, anything longer then you should be expecting a premium from the publisher.
  • Country / Territory for the contract: You might sign away Portuguese language rights without realizing that it will include publication in Brazil (and Mozambique, Angola, Macau, Cape Verde etc).  Also, giving worldwide Spanish language rights could cause friction with any United States publishing deal, as there is a large Spanish reading audience in the US.
  • Tax situation in your and the potential publishers country: While there are now many treaties which allow for uninhibited flow of money between countries, you could lose some of your advance to a foreign government’s tax.
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Before signing a contract with an agent or a publisher, how can an author tell if the company is good with foreign rights? Ask about their previous sales!  Contact authors who work with that publisher or agent and ask them about their experience. It’s also possible to find out the name of foreign publishers and go to their web sites and see what books they have recently published.

Find out what authors the agency represents overseas, then ask those authors about their own experiences. Again, foreign rights are only a portion of an author’s income, so that’s something to bear in mind. Check your agreement with a translations rights agent carefully.  Never, ever! give world rights away as standard, and you should also insist in a large upfront payment.
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Read more:

How to Sell Foreign Rights
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/how-to-sell-foreign-book-rights/

In Gwen Ellery’s article are tips from foreign agents about the cultural difference – something very important!  http://www.gwenellery.com/your-books-foreign-rights/

John Penberthy, a successful writer, who searched the internet, found contact addresses of agents in other countries and contacted them directly.  http://axiomawards.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/selling-foreign-rights-around-the-world/

Morris Rosenthal gives also great, detailed tips in his article about book contracts. http://www.fonerbooks.com/contract.htm

Importance of Foreign Rights
http://www.columbinecommunications.com/articles/the-importance-of-foreign-rights/

How You Can Sell your Rights or Split Your Book into Single Articles: https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/why-you-should-split-your-book-apart/

John Kremer sells helpful lists and reports for authors and an e-book with an extensive list of foreign rights agents  http://www.bookmarket.com/foreign.htm

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Top Languages and Top Social Media Networks

Top Languages on the Internet
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OK, you transferred your book into print, digital and into an audio book.  Now, how else can you leverage your hard work?  Let it translate into other languages, or sell foreign rights of your book. Sell your rights separately and if you still own all the rights for your book, also consider to split it apart, in order to sell it in single articles, especially if it is a non-fiction book. 

The reason to show you this info graphic is to point out the possibilities for writers to either translate (let translate) their work into foreign languages, such as Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German etc.  – or to sell the foreign rights to their books.
The info graphic lists the top languages on the Internet, countries highlighted are chosen due to the official status of a listed language in the country. Also included are tables on internet penetration by language and world population of language.  Another consideration is which Social Networks to use to market your books worldwide.  Let the person who translated your book also translate short articles for Google+, Facebook, Pinterest  and Twitter.  This enables you to get the attention of potential readers for your translated book.
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Top Social Media Networks / Languages
Jeff Bullas, Social Media & Blogging Guru wrote: “Twitter with its short and snappy messaging is very dependent on mobile usage and smart phones. The rise of the visual web is making Pinterest and Tumblr the fastest growing social networks on the planet. Facebook is where we share with friends and family. Google+  is embedded in Google’s web assets including Gmail, local check-ins and the mobile Android ecosystems. Google is getting the data it wants from Google+. Demographics, usage and content popularity. Meaning into it’s RANKING of SEARCH RESULTS and much more.”Here are the latest social media facts and statistics provided by the latest study by GlobalWebIndex for the second quarter of 2013. It shows clearly:

  • Google+ is catching up to Facebook
  • Google+ dominates on monthly visits
  • Active usage is highest on FB, then Google+ and Twitter
  • Pinterest is the fastest growing social network
  • LinkedIn is the most popular for older users

Don’t forget that on Google+ you can show cover images of your book as often as you want – contrary to other Social Media where it is only possible once a day!
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Foreign Right Sales
It is not that easy to sell your foreign rights without an agent or a publisher, but it’s not impossible. Women’s fiction author Kay Raymer did the whole agent query routine in 2000, but nobody would look at her novel, Hannah Street. So she sent the manuscript to her attorney, who happened to know someone at Bertelsmann / Germany. Bertelsmann made an offer on the book, and her lawyer helped arrange the contract. As a result, Raymer’s first novel appeared in Germany in 2001, a paperback original called Das Rosenhaus.
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Choose your foreign rights agent carefully!
Most agents charge 20% (or sometimes even 25%) on foreign sales (including British and translations). This 20% rate is justified because normally two agents are involved (the second one being in the foreign country), and they end up splitting the commission. If you are not represented already, why not try to find agents or even publishers yourself in other countries, especially if you speak more than one language? I just found a blog post from a successful writer, who did just that: searched the internet, found contact addresses of agents in other countries and contacted them. He wrote. Read more here.  and here.  How you can sell your rights or split your book in single articles can be found in this blog post: https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/why-you-should-split-your-book-apart/

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only $ 159 for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
Or visit http://www.e-Book-PR.com/book-promo to advertise your new book, specials or KDP Select Free Days.

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How to Sell Foreign Book Rights

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RockofCashelIreland

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It is not that easy to sell your foreign rights without an agent or a publisher, but it’s not impossible. Women’s fiction author Kay Raymer did the whole agent query routine in 2000, but nobody would look at her novel, Hannah Street. So she sent the manuscript to her attorney, who happened to know someone at Bertelsmann / Germany. Bertelsmann made an offer on the book, and her lawyer helped arrange the contract. As a result, Raymer’s first novel appeared in Germany in 2001, a paperback original called Das Rosenhaus. Read more in Gwen Ellery’s article.

Most agents charge 20% (or sometimes even 25%) on foreign sales (including British and translations).
This 20% rate is justified because normally two agents are involved (the second one being in the foreign country), and they end up splitting the commission.

You should never agree to be paying over 25% commissions for any type of sale.
Note that your foreign sales will likely be subject to a local withholding tax (10% is common), and that all of that tax burden will be borne by you (that is, the agent will take his or her commission off the pre-tax gross).

If you are not represented already, why not try to find agents or even publishers yourself in other countries, especially if you speak more than one language?
I just found a blog post from a successful writer, who did just that: searched the internet, found contact addresses of agents in other countries and contacted them. He wrote:

“How does one sell rights in the international marketplace?
My first foreign rights sales occurred as a result of Book Expo America, where for a small fee my book was displayed in a co-op booth.  Although the book didn’t take Book Expo by storm — as I somehow thought it would — it received interest from and I sold translation rights to publishers in Mexico, Poland and Nigeria.  If publishers in such diverse countries and cultures wanted the book, I was sure publishers in other countries would also want it.”   
Read the whole article here: http://axiomawards.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/selling-foreign-rights-around-the-world/

Morris Rosenthal gives also great, detailed tips in his article about book contracts.
http://www.fonerbooks.com/contract.htm

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 730 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing

http://on.fb.me/TvqDaK
http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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Part 2 – Great Opportunity for Authors: Foreign Right Sales

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

 

see also Part 1 here

 

How does a foreign rights contract work?
The agent usually has a standard contract which she prepares and sends to both parties for signatures, so the foreign contracts you will see are generally quite similar. The key factors, of course, are the amount of the non-refundable advance and the royalty rate, generally minimum of 7-8% on foreign rights, which should be applied to the retail price.

Royalties are deducted from the advance. Once the advance is paid back, the publisher makes royalty payments. Most publishers calculate royalties following the end of each calendar year, though some do so semi-annually. Payments are due a quarter later. The contract should have a finite term, usually five years. If the book proves to be big with good longevity, it can go back on the market at the end of the term for much better terms.

One thing that is absolutely critical is that the publisher provides a computerized statement showing sales, returns, etc. via postal mail to the author for each period. If figures are provided any other way (i.e. via email), it is too easy to fudge them. The language and geographic territory licensed should be specified. And the number of complimentary books provided to the author should be specified. The agent’s commission should be identified. Another thing is to limit rights to book publishing only. Always retain all other rights or sell them for top dollar advances.

Be aware: You are dealing with international countries.
Don’t email the manuscript file until you received the advance in full. But for royalties, once the advance is paid back, it can be dicey, depending upon the quality of the agents and size of the publishers you are working with. Publishers in Asia and Eastern Europe can be more problematic, depending on their size and reputation and how they treat international copyright agreements.

Even if the publisher does comply, they send the money to the agent, who is supposed to send it on to you, so there’s an extra layer of opportunity for graft. They know that you have no leverage; who’s going to spend thousands of dollars hiring lawyers in a country halfway around the world unless there are clearly large royalties at stake? The only leverage you have is if you have an American co-agent involved because the foreign co-agent’s reputation is at stake within the international agent community. Even then, many American co-agents expect only to receive their share of the advance and spend little, if any effort to collect royalties unless they are substantial. The moral of the story: The larger and more established the agency and publisher, the better chance you have of getting paid royalties when your advance is depleted. Try to get the highest advance possible and rather lower royalties.

Before you sign the publishing contract:
Morris Rosenthal gave in his guest blogging article “Publisher Book Contracts” at Fonerbooks.com the following advice:

“Most new authors fail to retain legal counsel before signing their first book contract, and actually depend on the acquisitions editor to tell them what’s fair and normal for the publisher to request. This creates an excellent negotiating position for the publisher and a horrible one for the author. Unfortunately, publishers really take advantage.

Author advocacy organizations can be a good source for publishing contract advice, but the catch is you usually have to be a published writer before you can join. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of joining a prestigious author guild after publishing a trade book, sending them the publisher’s book contract for your next edition for free legal review, and hearing something like, “Oh, you never should have signed the first contract. Now you’re stuck with it forever.”

“The contractual relationship between the author and the publisher is based on what’s written in the signed book contract, not on implicit understandings. Even experienced authors and agents sometime make the mistake of concentrating on the money and not paying enough attention to the clauses that protect the author’s rights. All contract terms are negotiable, though acquisitions editors like to pretend they have a standard publishing contract that all their authors are happy to sign. A brief summary of standard trade publisher contract terms follows, but it’s by no means all-inclusive: I advise everyone who is looking at a contract signing to consult a lawyer.”

There are some things to watch when negotiating foreign rights deals – hopefully an agent will keep an eye on these, but it’s worth having some idea yourself:

  • Term of the deal.
    Five years is most common, anything longer then you should be expecting a premium from the publisher.
  • Country / Territory for the contract
    You might sign away Portuguese language rights without realising that it will include publication in Brazil (and Mozambique, Angola, Macau, Cape Verde etc). Also, giving worldwide Spanish language rights could cause friction with any United States publishing deal, as there is a large Spanish reading audience there.
  • Tax situation in your and the potential publishers country.
    While there are now many treaties which allow for uninhibited flow of monies between nations, you could be badly caught out in some cases, and lose most of your advance to a foreign government’s tax.

John Kremer has a bunch of helpful lists and reports for authors, first of all an e-book for an extensive list of foreign book agents (300+) as well as more than a thousand literary agents in the U.S. and Canada. It’s an immediately downloadable report covering 1,400 agents (with address, phone, email, website, notes on some books they’ve sold rights to, etc.).  Instead of spending time researching foreign rights agents, you can order it for only $6.00, download it right away, and go to work, contacting the best agents in every country.

Foreign Book Distributors, Wholesalers, & Sales Reps — This report features more than 345 companies that provide foreign distribution or sales representation and also includes a sample of a foreign distribution contract.

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