Selling Foreign Book Rights? Things You Must Know

We are witnessing a global trend to market and sell book titles on an international platform connecting people across international and linguistic boundaries. And why not? Writers work incredibly hard to create their best work, and language and country should not be a barrier to put your title into the hands of readers all around the world.

However, for independent authors and small publishing houses, the thought of selling the international rights of their work can feel like a daunting task; especially, if they are not familiar with the nitty-gritty of such transactions or have not been attending large book fairs such as New York Rights Fair.

Right-selling requires access to a network of international publishers and knowledge about the foreign literary market, language, and tax implications, making it difficult for self-publishers to access overseas markets easily. However, this is slowly changing.

The predominance of book fairs such as New York Rights Fair and digital platforms such as PubMatch has reduced the gap between authors and publishing houses, and have given access to independent authors to make their book rights available for sale on a global platform.

How do these new ‘Digital Platforms’ work?

Automated right selling systems offer a customizable tool to buy book rights or sell book rights to local as well as international markets. It also gives freedom to users to explicitly authorize what’s for sale, and determine such variables as book formats (hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook), language, territory, contract period, print run, royalties, and many other details that cover international book right contracts.

It allows users to handle foreign rights independently in a better, faster, and an efficient way without the risk of losing copyright or making a significant upfront investment.

Automated selling system allows you make your title available for right transactions globally – with minimum hassles, helping to create a new income stream.

What Rights Could a Publishing House Buy?

Here are some of the most common rights usually bought by foreign publishers:

  • Print and digital rights
  • A license of one-time rights, to publish the work one time
  • A license of Second Serial Rights to publish the title that has already been published by another periodical
  • Dramatic, Television and Motion Picture rights authorizing companies to dramatize your work for television, film or radio play
  • Radio & TV Straight Reading
  • Audio rights enabling to record the book for sale on tape, CD, or digital download
  • Right to print in large print format

Things you need to consider before selling foreign rights:

It is best to have all the answers before signing the contract with your publisher. Here are some questions that you need to ask your publisher:

  • How big is the publishing house? Experienced and reputed publishing house will possess the right infrastructure to invest in translating and marketing your book.
  • What is the publisher’s experience in the international market?
  • What format does it intend to market and circulate the book? In how many languages and which countries?
  • How and when the contract will end? And, how and in what manner the rights will revert to you?
  • What is the marketing plan for your book?

Remember that it is not an overnight process and you should be clear about the value of your work, your goals, and the type of readers you want to target. It is critical to understand the trends in the international marketplace and structure the best possible deal suitable in the current publishing environment.