Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That's Not a Stranger in the Bushes. That's Santa!

I am a French author. I work with a dozen publishers in France and some of my books are translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, etc.. But not in English! I just moved to Ireland and I would like to see my books here. How do I do? Do I find an agent to translate and publish my books? In France the agents do not exist, I contacted the publishers directly and they deal themself for the foreign rights ...
The question is really: whose rights are these?

If the foreign language rights belong to your French publisher, how did your French publisher show your books to Spanish, Korean, and Chinese publishers without having shown them to US and UK publishers?  That seems extremely unlikely to me; it seems far more likely that the US and UK publishers simply weren't interested.  Some books, whether because of art style or topic or treatment, just don't translate to certain other book markets.  For every Everyone Poops, there's a Santa Through the Window.

If the foreign rights are yours, then you could get an agent to represent the foreign rights.  Readers, any agent suggestions?

13 comments:

Clémentine B said...

No, it's not surprising. I'm French too and I know that many French publishers (especially small-middle sized) don't even try to sell rights to the UK and US markets because they know it requires agents, subagents and that it's extremely difficult because the English-speaking world is one of the most hermetic. Other countries are much more willing to buy and translate French books, so they focus on these ones.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Hermetic?
Many publishers simply send us copies of their books-- no agent required.

Clémentine B said...

what I meant by hermetic is that the English-speaking market buys very few foreign books compared to most other markets. So some publishers focus on other countries - Italy, South East Asia, Eastern Europe especially I think - where they know they'll sell. UK/US publishers are infamously hard to sell to... so I wouldn't think that the French publisher of this person hasn't succeeded in selling her books to them. I'd just assume they haven't even tried! :)

Alice said...

I wrote this message. Thank you for the quick response.

In fact, I was talking about foreign rights, which are held by publishers. I think the majority of translations are decided at the books fair in Bologna.

The problem with the idea of "just" send a copy, is the dispersion: I can not ask all my editors to send a copy to every British publisher! Especially because I don't know anything about the market here.

So I can not search for an agent here if I do not have the foreign rights?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Alice, your French publisher might be ok with you working with an agent, but they may not. You should ask them, since you sold the rights to them.

Clementine, I take your point. Some US publishers seem to take more books from France than others, though. Searching for french authors on US Amazon may point people in the right direction.

Rose Green said...

If you are wondering how to narrow down which houses to have your French publisher send books to, you might look at houses that specialize in or have an imprint that specializes in foreign imports. In the US, Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic does (true, it is a small imprint--but it is one of their focuses), and I want to say Chicken House in the UK does as well. Whether you contact them through your publisher or through an agent, these kinds of publishers would probably be on the list.

Clémentine B said...

Hehe, I know Alice's books very well. Bonne chance Alice :)

Alice said...

Thank you Anonymous (what a strange name) and Rose, I'll look for editor "specialized" in french book, and ask to my editors...

Moi aussi je te connais Clémentine, j'aime beaucoup le catalogue de Talents-hauts ;-) It's a small small world...

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