I'm in discussions with a reputable European publisher interested in translating and publishing my English language self-published novel. They haven't offered me a contract yet, but I'd like to have the answer to my questions ahead of time just in case.
While I've been self-publishing my book series with minor success, I do have hopes of going hybrid with two other novels not related to my self-published series. My questions are:
1. If this publisher offers me a contract, would I be wasting my time querying U.S. agents with this contract offer?
Answer: yes. US agents mostly do domestic deals and have a separate agency handling their subrights. Whether those dedicated subrights agents would be willing to take on a single author as a client I don't know. You can find these agents in Publishers Marketplace under international deals.
2. Should I pursue agents in the same nation as this publisher instead? Or, at least one that is European based?
Answer: You can certainly try, but my understanding is that most European publishers are not interested in self-published books. You seem to have interest from one who is. I'm not confident you can generate enough revenue for an agent to be interested, even long term since it sounds like you intend to keep selfpublishing. Again, you can find agents working in foreign countries in Publishers Marketplace under international deals.
3. Is it realistic to believe that an agent who rejected my self-published manuscript only because they "didn't know how to sell it" be more interested in taking me on as a client knowing that it can be sold due to this contract?
Answer: no. You have an offer for a sub-rights deal. That doesn't change the domestic side of things.
4. Do I start my query with information about the contract first instead of book, or does that rule still remain?
Yes you would. Always start with the book.
I strongly urge you to find other self published authors who have gotten translation deals for their books and get in touch with them to see how they handled the deal.
While I've sold books directly to overseas publishers, I've also sold a lot domestically so I had some background in terminolgy and contract terms.
You'll be signing a contract that is governed by the laws of another country so you'll need to make sure you understand those terms. The contracts are generally in English but there are some very interesting differences between countries (including the US) about what's included and left out.
As self-publishing grows, there will be a lot more people to help you out here. I'm not well-versed in this area. Make sure you talk to people who've actually DONE deals