Translation and Foreign Rights: How to Sell Your Books in the Global Market
Here’s how translation rights usually work. If your book were being represented by a literary agent and published by a traditional publisher, either the agent or the publisher would control those rights that are often referred to as “foreign rights".
That means you don’t have to do anything to get your book translated into other languages. The agent or publisher controlling your rights would submit your book to the appropriate “foreign” publishers around the world and, with luck, several publishers would buy the rights to translate and publish your book in the language spoken in their country. So, your book could be translated into Spanish, French, German, Mandarin and a dozen or so other languages—and the publisher in each country where it is being distributed would pay for the translation. You would then receive a royalty from the “foreign” publisher (say, the Spanish publisher) on all of those Spanish language books that are sold by that Spanish publisher.
Self-publishers can use the same procedure to sell foreign rights to their own books. Of course, it's helpful if you know specific publishers who might be interested in your book so you can approach them directly. If you sign a contract with one of these publishers, the process will work exactly the same as it does for traditional publishers. And if your books have strong overseas appeal, you may want to find and engage a foreign rights agent to handle this for you.
If you're publishing your book with a subsidy publisher, they will make the same kind of arrangements with foreign publishers. In some cases, they may offer to have the book translated for you, usually for an additional fee. Again, you will receive a royalty on each translated book sold.
Hiring a Freelancer for Your Book Translation
Self-publishers can consider another path that may be a smart marketing move—hire a freelance translator to translate your book for you. Choose one who specializes in the translations in language(s) you're interested in. Then make arrangements to have your translated book distributed through your distributor, such as IngramSpark, which has a substantial overseas business, distributing to more than 130 countries. This is more work and can be expensive, but you gain more control and get to keep a larger percentage of the revenue from each book sold.
Check out BookWorks' Author Services page for service providers including those offering translations. A Google search will also pull up resources including professional associations like American Literary Translators Association and American Translators Association, whose sites allow you to search for members by their language specialties.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind
When you select a translator be sure to pin down the following:
- What will the translation will cost?
- What are the terms of the payment?
- How long it will take?
- How will the agreement be canceled if either party wants out?
- What other books have they translated?
- Are they a native speaker of the language?
- Who can you check their references?
- Who will own the copyright to the translated work?
- Will they help you market your book?
Translations are not cheap but they can open up a whole new market for your book, as well as increase your global visibility.
Like what you just read? Get more author tips and access to exclusive indie resources when you become a BookWorks member. Join our Community now. Click HERE to sign up!