Selling Your Foreign Licensing Rights: What Authors Need To Know


 

Amanda Hocking's Watersong books

Last week, I discussed how to get your self-published book translated using various techniques from hiring contractors to using a royalty splitting website. Today I’ll talk about the next logical step in this journey and that is selling your foreign rights to a publisher. Yes, you can sell your book’s rights whether they be digital or print to a publisher in another country.  Sounds cool huh?  Seeing our books being sold at  store overseas is the dream of many authors.

There are several options that self-published authors have, you can find an agent who can sell it for you, or you can try to do it on your own.  But before I begin, I have one very important question…

Have You Exploited All Your English Rights?

Did you know you can sell the English rights of your book to publishers in other countries? Just as English language music and movies are sold all over the world, so are English language books. So before you go and get knee deep in translations of your work, make sure you’ve exploited all of your licensing rights. If it’s possible to sell your book’s English rights to a German publisher, why not?  In fact, you can sell those rights to publishers in every country on the planet.

Unfortunately, many traditionally published authors stop with selling their U.S. or U.K. rights and that’s absurd.  There are many publishers in other countries that would love to do business with you so what are you waiting for?

Can I Still Shop Around My Book To Agents and Publishers?

Yes, if you’re upfront with your agent/editor there shouldn’t be any conflict. However, you must be specific as to what you’re actually selling them. If you’re selling only U.S. English rights you must make sure that’s in your contract. This is important because many authors are finding publishers doing what’s called a rights grab where a publishing company tries to buy up all your book’s licensing rights without paying you adequately for them.  Sadly, there are many stories of authors who have mistakenly sold all of their book’s rights for a few bucks and that’s just wrong.  A book publisher has no business owning the movies rights to your book!
Here are a just few ways you can license a book:

• Digital (Ebooks)
• Print (Paperback and hardcover)
• Foreign language versions
• Audio
• Movie
• Merchandise (T-shirts, toys, posters, etc.)

Agents

Unfortunately, in some countries it’s necessary to have an agent if you want to be published with a legitimate publishing company. There are some literary agencies that specialize in foreign rights sales and are happy to help you for a percentage of your royalties.  Some of these agents subcontract other agents overseas with whom they split a fee with if a property sells.  There are also literary agencies who prefer to deal directly with publishers.

Doing it DIY Style

Recently, several websites have popped up that cater to matching publishers with authors. The most popular ones with indie authors are Pubmatch and IPR License. IPR License has a yearly fee of $79, while Pubmatch, has both free and paid services.

Both sites are relatively new, IPR License was launched in 2012, while Pubmatch was created in 2009 and is co-owned by Publisher’s Weekly.  So neither site has been around for a long period of time.

However, I have yet to find any decent reviews or testimonials from either site. There are no Hugh Howey’s or Colleen Hoovers that have emerged from these places. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, I just wouldn’t shell out money for the paid services. Go free and check out the site for yourself then, decide what’s best for your book.

So there you have it, a complicate subject explained as simply as possible. If you have any experience with Pubmatch or IPR License please tell us about it in the comments section. Lord knows, I’d like to know if anyone is having any success.

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