Just got another foreign rights offer! This one’s not signed yet, and I try not to talk about them until they are, but altogether The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is now available or will soon be available in a remarkable number of countries and languages. This is not an exhaustive list (because I’m doing it from memory; always a risky venture), but thus far the book has sold to:
- Most English-speaking countries (Not sure about India; I’m a little fuzzy on whether everyone in the Commonwealth can buy from UK sellers. Frex Australia can — sometimes — and Canada can’t. It gets messy.)
- Most Spanish-speaking countries
- France (not Francophone countries to my knowledge, just in France)
- Hong Kong (not mainland China, alas — traditional Chinese, not simplified)
Nothing in the Middle East or Africa yet, but I have hope. And note that most of the above are print rights (occasionally ebook, no audio except English) and generally just for the first book of the trilogy, although some of the foreign publishers have come back to purchase rights for the latter books too. It all depends on whether the first book does well in the publisher’s country.
One of the things I didn’t understand when I first became a published author was how important foreign rights sales could be. This is one of the reasons why any author trying to get published should first seek a good agent, IMO, and ideally an agent that has an established relationship with lots of foreign rights agents. Many publishers ask for world rights, but then lack the infrastructure, translators, or contacts to actually publish in most other countries. By selling rights separately to publishers who are actually in those countries, there’s a much greater chance of the book actually coming out in multiple languages and markets. And the author might even make more money than if they sold the rights as a “whole world” package.
Not that we’re talking about a lot of money, note. Most foreign publishers are small, and there aren’t a ton of people willing to buy American fantasy novels in other countries. If I’m lucky I make (after agent fees; I do have to pay the foreign agents too, but it’s worth it since I wouldn’t be making the sale otherwise) an advance of a few hundred dollars on each foreign sale; if I’m luckier I’ll get royalties in a few months (or years). But considering it costs me nothing in effort to make these sales — the book’s already written, after all, and I don’t have to translate it — and in exchange I get the chance to build a readership all over the world? For somebody like me, who’s hoping for a long-term career in this business, retaining and selling foreign rights is absolutely crucial.
And no, if you’re wondering, I don’t get to see most of these books, nor do I have any input on how they’re marketed (except in rare cases). But it’s enough for me to know the text, translated or not, is being read all over the world.
So let’s hope for more! More Kingdoms! Ha ha ha!