If you think your book won't sell overseas, you may be missing out on a goldmine of opportunities. While you might not see your book appealing to different cultures, human nature is the same worldwide. The international marketplace might be ripe for your book's subject, and the only way to find out is to get it out there and see who's interested in buying translation rights. Even better, if one or two countries show interest, more likely will as well.
Tips to Successfully Sell Your Books Overseas
Write a sales pitch email for your book directed at foreign rights agents. Outline your sales to date and any other rights sales, such as audio, e-book or screenplay rights. Also include a short summary and table of contents as well as any reviews and links to the book's website, its Amazon page and any TV or radio coverage. Offer to send a copy of your book.
Find agents that specialize in foreign rights and send them your sales pitch email. You can do this by scouring the International Literary Market Place, a book available at good libraries, or by Googling "foreign rights agents" -- you're sure to find Web pages with their contact information. You can also attend events like Book Expo America, where foreign agents regularly circulate. Foreign rights agents are a key step in the process, because they already know foreign publishers and overseas markets and give your book a push in the right direction. Make sure that you're looking for agents who specialize in your type of book, such as children's literature, nonfiction or romance. Be advised as well that agents usually charge a 10-percent commission.
When you've secured an agent, keep him or her updated with any new reviews or media coverage you get -- this will help sell the book. When an offer comes in, review the contract and negotiate as necessary. The foreign publisher should only ask for the right to publish the book in one specific language. You should retain other rights. Also be sure to note the withholding tax payable to the foreign country's government. It should be around 10 to 15 percent. An advance should reflect the royalties for the first printing -- find this out by taking into account how many copies are in the first printing, the royalty rate and the retail price.
Don't worry about contract negotiation with your foreign publisher -- a foreign rights agent will help you with any points of confusion. When in doubt, just ask.