Thursday, July 28, 2011

Foreign Rights 101

After receiving an email last night from a Turkish Literary Agency regarding Released, I headed over to the Kindle Boards for some much needed advice.  Selling the rights to your book to another country is a big deal, so naturally I grew skeptic, but a very well informed author put it very simple terms that I wanted to share with you all.

Book rights are specific to territories.  Usually that equates to countries - so Italian rights would be rights to publish the book in Italy - but sometimes it combines several countries - such as German rights for Germany and Switzerland (where they have a lot of German speaking citizens.).

Each time you sell rights to a territory, you are giving the publish in question the exclusive rights to publish your book in that language in that territory.

Rights are specific to type of publication as well.  So I could sell hardcover rights to one publisher and mass market paperback rights to another.  Or ebook rights but retain print rights. And so on.

Foreign agents take between 10-15% of the deal, both advance and future royalties.  This is standard.  If you are also working with a US agent, you pay their fee as well.  So if I have a US agent who takes a 15% cut, and they work through an agent in Russia, for instance, who takes a 10%, I am actually giving up a 25% cut of my deal to the agencies in question.  In return, they handle all of the negotiation and contracts, accept payment on my behalf, convert that payment to the currency I've agreed to be paid in, and send that to me.

Foreign rights deals tend to be lower than US rights deals.  The same book that might sell for 15K advance in the US might get a 5K advance in France or Germany or Japan.  It might also get a $500 advance in places like Hungary and Poland.

The nice part about foreign rights deals is that they are essentially free money - you've already written the book, so there isn't any more work involved.  You are essentially getting paid a second time for the work you have already done in writing the book.  Multiply that by ten or fifteen countries and you can easily see why rights deals are so useful to an author.

Once you agree to work with an agency, you cannot work with anyone else in that territory until the contract has expired.  (So you can't have two different Russian agents, for instance.)

Foreign agents will often use the net to find works they think they might be interested in, ask if you control the rights, and only THEN decide if they want to represent your work.  They don't want to spend the time reading hundreds of books for which the rights have already been sold.  Once they know the rights are available, they will request a hardcopy or digital copy.  They will read the book and then offer a representation deal if they like it.  Only then will they start submitting the book to publishers in their territory, trying to secure you a deal. 

There is an ongoing thread regarding this topic in the Writer's Cafe of Kindle Boards, so hop on over if you want more up-to-date information or if you have additional questions.

1 comment:

  1. Foreign Rights?!? That's INCREDIBLE!!!! CONGRATS!!!!! (And Good Luck!!!!!!!)

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