Tag Archives: foreign rights

Foreign Book Rights: Multiple Sales of Your Manuscript


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.
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.

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.


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.

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 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

Major agencies, specialized in Foreign Rights:

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?

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.

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.

Read more:

How to Sell Foreign Rights

In Gwen Ellery’s article are tips from foreign agents about the cultural difference – something very important!

John Penberthy, a successful writer, who searched the internet, found contact addresses of agents in other countries and contacted them directly.

Morris Rosenthal gives also great, detailed tips in his article about book contracts.

Importance of Foreign Rights

How You Can Sell your Rights or Split Your Book into Single Articles:

John Kremer sells helpful lists and reports for authors and an e-book with an extensive list of foreign rights agents




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Are You Sure You Know Your Rights As Author?



Smart Racoon

If you are serious about being a writer, you need to know a bit about the business. Let’s start with your rights as an author and how to read a publishing contract, in case you are not an author-publisher, keeping ALL your rights.

Anne Rooney summed it nicely up: “Publishing is a business and no matter how friendly and reassuring your editor, they want to make as much money out of the deal as they can. If “it’s just the standard contract” you say that’s fine as a starting point, but now you are going to make it suitable to you and your book. If they say “no one has ever objected before” that means either they are lying or no one ever has read the contract properly and taken a professional approach.”

As an author you own the copyright, and you own all the rights to your work. You can sell – or give away these rights or use in several ways:

First Serial Rights
They can be print or electronic and mean you are selling a publisher the right to publish your article once for the first time. In the case of print rights you are free to immediately sell the piece to an e-magazine or e-zine before print publication and, after the print magazine containing your article hits the newsstand, you are free to sell it again as a reprint to other print markets.

First Serial Rights Electronic
However, first serial electronic rights are different – for sample e-magazines or e-zines buy first rights for an exclusive time period, usually one year (often for the laughable amount of $5 or $10), and at the same time, ask for non-exclusive rights after that. While you can immediately sell the same piece to a print market as a “first print right,” you cannot even post the article on your own website until the year is up. After that you are free to sell the article to other electronic markets as a reprint and post it yourself online everywhere you want.

North American first serial rights
Most Canadian and US freelance authors sell North American first serial rights, reserving the right to sell in other world markets  (e.g. Great Britain, Australia, Asia). Specify what type of rights you are selling: First North American Electronic Rights Only.

Second Serial Rights
These are reprint rights and apply to print and electronic markets. Never sell reprint rights, keep them at all costs. Even you will earn less money for each reprint, you can sell your work over and over again.

Subsidiary Rights
Other rights that authors and freelancers hold are subsidiary rights, including, but not limited to movie rights, dramatic, TV and radio rights, audio and other media rights.

Digital Rights
However, don’t give up or sell your electronic rights to a traditional book publisher without receiving a large lump sum or at least 50% royalty from the retail price. Most publishing houses are not really experts in e-publishing and often don’t use the electronic rights to your book. But it would prevent you from e-publishing your own work or selling it to a high-royalty-paying e-publisher.

All Rights
In this case the author gives up all future income from the article or book and only retains the copyright. Giving up all your rights should be only considered if a tremendous sum is paid for.

Copyright Protection in the USA and Canada
Copyright protection in Canada is automatic upon the creation of a given work, regardless of the medium of its creation, and it lasts until fifty years after the creator’s death – in the USA seventy years.

Before You Sign Any Contracts:
Always first contact your national authors’ or writers’ associations for further information and get legal advice from a lawyer who is specialized in copyright. This can save you ten thousands of dollars.



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:

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7,400 Intl. Exhibitors, 3,200 Events at Frankfurt Book Fair


If you have never been to Germany in early October, you have missed something!  No, I don’t mean the Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest party (even it’s worth a visit!) – I am talking here about the world’s biggest book fair, the Frankfurt Buchmesse.

Welcome to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012!

From 10 to 14 October there’s nowhere else you should be but with millions of books. As the world’s largest, even legendary book fair, Frankfurt is always exciting, innovative and very, very colorful. This year there will be  more than 7,400 international exhibitors, diverse new customer groups and more than 3,200 events. Among its many activities, the Frankfurt Academy is hosting four conferences to help international publishers find their way in the digital world, as well as the two-day event, StoryDrive, to highlight the potential for cross-medial cooperation.

Find information on book markets worldwide on their website. But there is more: whether it’s assistance for first timers, new technologies in the classroom, marketing for publishers. Frankfurt promises a lot – and they keep their promise – always.
The First Timer Seminar provides, among others:

  • info on how to pave the way for new business contacts.
  • info on how to make your Fair agenda working efficiently.
  • info on how to benefit from the Frankfurt Academy conferences and programmes.
  • introduction into the rights and licence business by an experienced expert.
  • personal testimonials by former First Timers.
  • guided tour of the Fair (subsequently, optional).
  • Meet with…
  • other first time exhibitors and trade visitors to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Did you read the blog about splitting your book apart and selling the rights separately? Or the one about foreign rights?  Here in Frankfurt you will find hundreds or thousands of international publishers to whom you can sell foreign rights.

Make your arrangements for the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair early, especially for accommodations, and order your tickets online.  Pre-purchased tickets will entitle you to free use of public transport (RMV) as soon as you arrive.  Enjoy this wonderful world of books in Germany!



If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts (there are more than 520 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, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Follow on Twitter: @111publishing

And don’t forget to spread the word on other social networking sites of your choice for other writers who might also enjoy this blog and find it useful. Thanks, Doris



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European Union and e-Books


When it comes to currency, the EC is borderless; when it comes to e-books — not so much. Could this change? You will be surprised – it might be the European Commission that makes it happen:

European publishers and a member of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) responsible for the e-book standard ePub, met with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Kroes to discuss the future of e-books.

Publishers called for reduced rates of VAT for e-books and Ms Kroes has reassured them that she was standing behind them on this issue. The goodwill has to come from the Finance Ministers.

The publishers also insisted that they are signing licences with authors allowing them to distribute the books in a said language on a pan-European basis. There is no obstacle in the contract between publishers and retailers which prevent these retailers to sell a German e-book to Greece or a Spanish e-book to the United Kingdom for example and to make sure that as many readers have access to as many books as possible, this is an issue of cultural diversity.


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Are You Attending The Frankfurt Book Fair?

Book Trade Show Representation
If you are wary of the cost for a booth at the world’s biggest book fairs, not to mention the travel cost, consider to have your book displayed there. Check out ForeWord who is one of the companies who offer this service.

They write:
By exhibiting in the ForeWord cooperative booth, your titles may potentially generate rights interest from foreign publishers (typically, a foreign rights deal includes a non-refundable advance and a royalty rate of 7 – 8%.) So, with no out-of-pocket expense – except for the $175 exhibit fee to have your title displayed at the ForeWord booth – you have a chance to earn an unexpected windfall – in the best scenario.

Among other International Book Fairs ForeWord exhibits at:
London International Book Fair April 16-18, 2012
BookExpo America June 5-7, 2012
both are $175 per title or  $600 shelf (5 books)
However the best option and the world leader in book contract sales is the
Frankfurt Book Fair October 10-14, 2012

To accurately describe the Frankfurt Book Fair, one word cannot be avoided: “overwhelming.” The numbers alone are daunting: nine show halls, more than 6700 exhibitors, publishers from over 100 countries, and a stunning 150,000 !!! attendees. Luckily, with excellent train / metro services, ample hotel space, and German efficiency, Frankfurt’s just the place to pull off such an event. Historically, ForeWord’s booth is across from Random House assuring fantastic traffic. Worldwide Audience.
$175 per title – $600 shelf (5 books)

Representatives from ForeWord direct visiting agents and reps to the appropriate shelves (books are arranged by genre), pass out literature, and collect business cards and contact information when interest in a certain title is expressed. ForeWord will then pass on the contact info to the corresponding publisher.

It is a chance for small publishers to sell foreign rights. In the worst scenario you loose $175.



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