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International Book Rights: What You Need to Know About Selling Your Book Overseas

  • admin@stratton1
  • Jun 5, 2017
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  • Blog

So you’ve written a book, the reviews are in, and people love it. Your self-published book has made small, yet significant, waves, and your publishing consultant tells you that your book could potentially make bigger waves internationally. So far, you’ve made money from the local purchases, and well, it seems like a good idea. Then you consider the fact that out there is a different world from where you’re sitting , so you ask yourself: what do I know about international book rights and the process of getting it done?

International book rights, simply put, are publishing rights outside of the territory where the author published their book. This includes books published in the English language as well as translation rights, and can include a variety that the author’s agent has to make sure of when dealing with the international publisher. Translation rights here means having the right to get a book translated and published in a foreign language. These are then sold to other publishers that only have the rights in the translated work.

It is the publisher or agent’s job to determine different offers that will benefit the author the most. If granted the World Rights, the publisher has the responsibility to go after all the right sales. Publishers usually have a foreign rights department. However, if specific territorial rights are given, then it becomes the responsibility of the agent or author, which is mostly the case with small to medium-sized publishers. If the author’s publisher is big, the usual case is that they pursue the international rights sales, but smaller publishers use sub-agents when publishing in other territories.

In this case, sub agencies (literary agencies that are based in the country where the book is translated that act on behalf of the agents and share commission) will use their local knowledge, contacts, and deal with other details to generate sales in the translated foreign language.

More often than not, publishers will encourage authors to consider World Rights as it will enable them to publish or license the publication of the books worldwide. They often offer the author a 50-50 split on the income of these rights, but it is not such a good thing for the author as the work needed to sell these rights is not much yet the income is good. In this case, the agent or the author has to try to negotiate up to 75% of the earnings. It is really better off for the author or the author’s agent to sell the rights themselves to be able to capitalize of the different kinds of rights available throughout different publishing territories across the globe.

Hopefully, this article was helpful and can aid you when deciding to publish your book internationally. If you have any questions, feel free to ask a Stratton agent or post your comment below.

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