Monday, January 17, 2011

Foreign Rights: Not for the Faint of Heart

In 2006 I had a mid-grade novel accepted for publication and the publisher and I agreed a sequel would be a good idea so I got onto writing that and submitted this at the beginning of 2008. The first book came out late 2008 and the sequel was scheduled for 2009. Then the recession hit and the publisher reduced their list and pulled the plug on the sequel. I get regular queries from readers about when the second book is coming. This year I discussed the possibility of getting both books published overseas and the publisher returned international rights to me while retaining local regional rights to the first book. Now I want to query both books to the US and UK but I’m not quite sure how to go about this. Do I send/query the first book in its final form or as a manuscript?
Depends on whether you think its published Australian form does the book proud in the US market. Some Aussie publications do, and some don't. Sometimes I see books published in foreign countries and the cover style is so far off from what would work for us here that it inspires a strongly negative reaction even though I know that this reaction is irrational and unfair to the book. If you don't think its published presentation is stunning, send it as a manuscript and include a page with its Aussie cover and publishing info. Be prepared to answer the question "Why didn't the Australian publisher submit this to us for foreign rights?" In fact, do you know that the Australian publisher didn't? Generally we don't like being sent the same thing we said 'no' to a year ago by someone else.
If they were interested would publishers keep it in its first published form?
Unlikely, but possible.
Am I doomed? Is there hope? I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me on this non-run-of-the-mill problem.
With the economy in the state it is, there's a little more doom running around than there used to be, but no, you're not out of the race yet. Still, this is going to be tough going, so be sure you want to spend this effort on this book, rather than investing it in writing a new book.


Unknown said...

It took me a few minutes to realize that the book was originally published in Australia. :-) I was like, "Why does she keep talking about Australia?"

Thanks for the insight into foreign covers. I always wondered why foreign cover art is so different from that found in the US. Clearly our covers wouldn't work there, or they'd keep the ones we have, right? I think the whole foreign rights aspect of publishing is fascinating.

Livia Blackburne said...

Another option would be to put it out yourself on createspace and kindle.

Melinda Szymanik said...

I asked the question originally and it was published in New Zealand. I think the cover art is wonderful for both first and second books but I'm not sure what overseas markets would think. I don't know how much effort was put into shopping the first book around overseas by my publisher (they don't seem to sell a lot of foreign rights beyond Australia and Asia). I have kept writing (novels and picture books) and being published but I would love to have this sequel in book form. I'm contemplating going the e-book route.

thanks for answering my question:)

TK Roxborogh said...

Ha, Melinda, As I was reading the post, I thought to myself. Hey that's what happened to Melinda. The managing director of one of my publishers said that it is almost impossible to get their local list picked up by US and UK. And, even Australia, though our books sell there, doesn't put much interest into Kiwi titles. They are more interested in promoting their own publications.

What you need is what I've done and Vanda Symon - get an agent in either the US or the UK

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