Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I'm famous in the UK, do you love me now?

If you rejected a query or manuscript, but that manuscript then went on to be published in a foreign market (ie the UK) to substantial success and the author wanted to find a US agent to sell the rights for the North American market, would you be prepared to look at the manuscript/query again?

If you want to discover the truly bizarre things agents fight about with publishers, all you have to do is say "Open Market: India"

Some background:

People in the UK speak English. I know this isn't a shock to you of course.
People here in the US speak it also.

Thus, if you sell a book in the UK it's not quite the same "foreign market" that say Urdu or Sanskrit or Klingon is.

In other words, you'll need to have retained North American English rights AND open market rights for a list of countries outside the British Commonwealth..

Thus: India.

UK publishers do not put India on the open market list.
US publishers do.
Trust me when I tell you it's an ugly fight.
We also like to brawl over Malaysia.

There are other points of contention as well.

Your UK contract was most likely drawn up to favor the UK publisher. Without looking at it, I can't tell you if it's got enough territory left over to interest a US publisher.

If you sold into the UK market without an agent to help you on this arcane but important point, chances are you granted world English to the UK publisher. That means you CAN'T approach a US agent for sales here; those rights are held by the UK publisher.

I will tell you that lots of books do find an American audience after some success in the UK.



Stephen G Parks said...

OK, I live in Malaysia. We actually have some very good book stores (and book purchases are tax deductible). Sometimes we have both the American and the English editions of books on the shelves.

When I bought Station Eleven, both the UK and US editions were available to me. I bought the UK edition, as it was cheaper than the US.

Usually there’s only one edition available. My copy of The Martian is from the UK, as is Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem. But my copies of Anne Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy are from the US, as are the James S. A. Corey books. (easiest way to tell: above the ISBN it either states UK or USA/Canada pricing)

There are also big annual book fairs here where books are sold by the boxful (you buy the box for a fixed rate and fill it yourself). Would these be publisher’s remainders?

I always assumed that our good fortune was directly related to our proximity to Singapore and its voracious appetite for all things English. Apparently there's a turf war between US and UK publishers.

Kae Ridwyn said...

This is so interesting, I can't think of anything to write except thank you! I so appreciate the enlightenment I receive in these waters :)
You are, without a doubt, my queen.

Colin Smith said...

Wait wait wait!

"People here in the US speak it [English] also."

Really? Remember "bog roll"? I believe it was Mark Twain who said Britain and the US were two countries separated by a common language. :)

Okay, jesting aside, this is interesting and shows how important it is to get that danged contract right. One presumes that if you sign with a UK agent, you would leave it up to the agent to negotiate rights and publication to foreign markets, such as the US. You wouldn't go scouting for a US agent behind your UK agent's back. That just wouldn't be cricket! :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Agents brawling. Wonderful imagery for a Wednesday morning. It is morning, right? I seem to be at my desk at the dread day job. Can't remember driving here.

I wish I would be a worthy woodland creature to earn an agent as clever as our queen. Especially one that is adept at brawling. Lovely dream.

Colin Smith said...

[WARNING: Shameless promotion of British author]

On my blog today, I've posted a review of Ruth Downie's latest, VITA BREVIS, which comes out in the US in about a week. It's set in Ancient Rome, and it's excellent! Fellow fans of Mr. Corby should check it out.

Ms. Downie isn't one of Janet's clients, but we do like book recommendations here, so I'm hoping Janet's okay with the plug. Indeed, if you haven't read any of this series, Mighty QOTKU, you may want to give it a read yourself!

Oh, and big hat tip to the publicist at Bloomsbury who, for some reason, put me on a mailing list, and offered to send the book to me despite the fact a) I'm a publishing nobody, b) she didn't ask for a review, and c) my blog is seen by fewer people than there are Brexit supporters in Scotland.

[END Shameless Promotion of British Author]

Lennon Faris said...

Yet another reason I want a good agent :)

Coline - I do love the different terms. I'd never heard of 'bog roll' till the other day with the comments/WIR. 'Snogging' is my favorite. Every time I hear it, I think "snorting" (like a pig). So in my mind, I'm reading about teenagers standing around and snorting. Makes for a different scene than the author intended, I'm sure. :)

Lennon Faris said...

Um, that should be COLIN, not Coline. And here I was, so excited that I got the bolding right...

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: "Snogging" is a wonderfully evocative term. While it is used generally of passionate kissing, it makes me think of the kind of kissing teenagers engage in--you know, where it's all gusto and hormones, and about as sensitive as a Nigel Farage speech. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

The more I learn the more I realize I NEED an

Kitty said...

We also like to brawl over Malaysia.

I don't know why, but that just cracked me up!

Colin Smith said...

S.P. Bowers: Brown? an...other 24 hours in the day? an... new computer because the current one posts comments too early? Talk about a cliff-hanger!! ;)

RachelErin said...

A side effect of DH being in law school is that we talk about how crazy contracts are over dinner, which makes posts like this even more entertaining.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Stephen G Parks book purchases are tax deductible?! Time to renew my passport and get a work visa. There are libraries in Malaysia, right? And I can write anywhere!

(have you guys ever gone onto Craigslist to look at apartments in cities that are not yours, for story research/daydream purposes?)

julieweathers said...

"Spesh is missing," Tilley cried over the phone.

"Calm down," Martha replied and flipped the next page in her new Studs For Duds catalog. "They have mermaid outfits on sale this month in the Studs catalog. You know how Bert likes fishing."

"I don't want another one of those," Tilley howled. "The shells always get caught in my waistband. Pay attention. Spesh is missing. We have to find her."

"You know what happened the last time we played detective. We wound up in jail."

"I got us out. Come help me find her."

"Only because you kept trying to seduce that poor jailer and scared him to death."

"I was lonely. Prison will do that to a woman."

"We were only locked up for a few hours. Tell me why you think Spesh is missing. We need to hurry. Triple card bingo is on at the senior center tonight. If you make me miss it, I promise I'm not getting you out the next time you get stuck in a cake."

"I came over for coffee and found a note on her table. 'The more I learn the more I realize I NEED an' That's all it said."

"All right. I'm on my way. I'll bring our Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson outfits."

Tilley sniffles into the phone. "All right."

Martha and Tilley slip into their detective outfits and get out their clue collection kits, but to no avail. Ominously, the only thing they find is a knife on the counter and the note. They decide to call the police and are delighted when two handsome young officers arrive.

They are all gathered in the kitchen discussing the missing Spesh when she walks in with a bag of apples. "What on earth is going on? Martha? Tilley? Why are you dressed like...strippers?"

"Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, actually. The outfits were on sale in the Duds For Studs catalog. Tilley saw your note and thought you'd been kidnapped or something."

"Kidnapped? No. I was working on the perfect apple pie recipe. I noted I needed an extra Pippin to make the recipe perfect, so I went to buy more apples."

Tilley looks disappointed. "So, I guess we need to let these police officers go." She adjusts her derby. "Let's wear our outfits to bingo and stir up a few pacemakers."

Spesh waves. "Uh, thank you. Can you untie these officers, first, please?"

Jenny C said...

Book purchases are tax deductible in Malaysia? So, if I lived there the government would end up owing me money?

Donnaeve said...

...agent. B/c "an" should be followed by a word beginning with a vowel - at least 99% of the time - unless followed by a consonant beginning word which sounds like a vowel. As in "hour." Then it would be an hour, not a hour.

That concludes my public service for the day.

Or, S.P. Bowers is "Spesh" and needed an extra Pippin. :)

I have nothing to offer on the actual post. As you can see.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: But what if that final "n" of S.P.'s "an" was, in fact, also the start of a word beginning with "n"--like Newcastle Brown. "An Newcastle Brown" and "a Newcastle Brown" would sound almost identical. Grammatically speaking, yes, "a Newcastle Brown" is correct. But since we don't know the rest of the sentence, we are left to speculate. Besides, any excuse for a Julie story... ;)

Laura Mary said...

Cheeky comment from me, also nothing to add except to say hello everyone, and catch up on the last three weeks worth of posts!

Donnaeve said...

Colin However...S.P. Bowers took the time to capitalize NEED, and then typed "an." That would be a helluva typo if a Newcastle Brown was intended. anewcastle Brown?

Besides, who drinks those? :)

That is some cliffhanger. Totally derailed the topic du jour - at least for some of us.

julieweathers said...

As you may have guessed, I have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. I'm doing good to communicate in American English. I certainly haven't had much luck with agents foreign or domestic.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I'm sorry, but the words "NEED an" can really only, logically, be followed by "Newcastle Brown"--or "Newkie Brown." If an agent comes with said Newkie Brown, all the better. ;)

Stephen G Parks said...

Book purchases are tax deductible in Malaysia, but not at 100%. I'm not sure what the actual deductible percent is, because their online tax portal does it all for you, and I usually have other deductions too. I'd bet it's around 10%. Also, there's a capped amount (I think it's rm1000 per annum, approx US$300). But enough that it's worth keeping the receipts and filing them with the return.

Jennifer R. Donohue yes, we have libraries, although you'd have to learn Malay. It's not that difficult. Definitely look at apartments here if you want to daydream. Furnished beachfront 3 br apartment in Penang ~US$600/month. I don't live near a beach myself, but my apartment is 5 subway stops from my school in the downtown Kuala Lumpur, and my writing desk overlooks a rainforest - full of beautiful songbirds, monkeys, pythons, civets, monitor lizards, and the occasional cobra.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Great scotts, what a wonderful critterland trail to follow today.

And I've nothing more intelligent to add either. Except your story julieweathers. And Donnaeve's and Colin's detective magnifying glasses.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

...and getting a glimpse into Stephen G Park's Malaysia.

Donnaeve said...

Colin I logically conclude you like Newkie Brown's!


Colin Smith said...

Donna: When the heat index is north of 100F, what's not to love about THIS? :D

Colin Smith said...

And lest people think I've been off-topic this whole time, what do Ruth Downie, snogging, and Newcastle Brown have in common? They are all loved in the UK. :D

Donnaeve said...

Colin, Indeed. But, I'll stick to something a little light, like

***If my linkage flunks, I give up trying to figure out why.

Donnaeve said...

Shit to shinola! Lookee there! Finally.

BJ Muntain said...

I almost feel like I'm going off topic to speak on topic!

The question is interesting. It's always interesting when the questioner is asking one thing, but the answer is another. In this case, the questioner is asking if Janet would look at a query about a previously rejected manuscript, and the answer is: it depends. It depends on what rights are still there to be sold.

I suppose it would be easy enough to assume that, if US English rights were still available, that that would be all that is necessary. English rights in other countries though - who would've thought? But India and Malaysia are incredibly populous areas with large amounts of English readers.

This is all so friggin' interesting. I want to know more. MORE, I say.

And someone give Colin a beer. Hey, Colin - Newcastles are kind of expensive up here. Ever have a Schliemann's Honey Brown? (Disclosure: I haven't - celiacs can't drink most beers - but I have discerning friends who say it's the best brown ale.)

(I was so tempted to leave a cliff-hanger like SP's, to continue the fun, but I

Colin Smith said...

WOOOHOOO!!! Well done, Donna!! :D :D

Guinness came out with a seasonal pumpkin flavor a few years ago. I'm not a fan of stouts, but that was one of the best beers I've ever had. It's a shame it was such a limited release. I've not seen it since. :(

Colin Smith said...

BJ: What do you mean? I've never left the topic. We're talking about things that are loved in the UK, are we not? ;)

I agree, this whole topic of English rights is very interesting, and the fact few of us have much to contribute shows how little we all know.

As for Schliemann's Honey Brown--I haven't had it, but it sounds wonderful. Honey? I'm in! :)

BJ Muntain said...

Colin: Sorry. I misspelled the name - I went for what it sounded like, and was wrong. Here we go:

Sleeman's Honey Brown lager - brewed in Canada, eh?

Craig F said...

When I get there I am going to have to shoot for an American agent. I have not had good luck with being happy with Brit books lately.

I am not going to say the writing was bad or that the plots weren't serviceable. The consistency and attention to details really sucked though.

In one the murder weapon was an H&K G36. The G36 is the NATO and European version of the M-4. It is used as the M-4 or AR-15 is here. It is an assault carbine that fires the NATO standard 5.56x45mm round. The writer got that right at first. Later he called it a 45mm round. A chapter or two later it was a 45 calibre round. A bit later it he started to call it a sniper's rifle. With less than a 19 inch barrel it could never be a sniper's rifle.

Another book talked about the detective getting into his old Datsun. The next page he started to talk about him renting a Ford for the drive. He talks about the Northstar V-8(a Cadillac motor) in that Ford and being able to zip around traffic. Then he talks about the traffic as having been bumper to bumper for the whole trip.

I might be anal about such details but I am trying to read critically so I can find out why I like something. I want an agent who will point out little shit like this if I happen to miss it. That doesn't seem to be happening in Britain and it is not just because of Brexit.

Karen McCoy said...

Very interesting. Like BJ, I want to know more! Like when these divisions started and how deep they run. If the reasons are historical, political or related to something else.

Donna, "Shit to Shinola" might have a short story within it. What do you think?

Donnaeve said...

Did anyone else read Craig's comment as "When I get there I am going to have to shoot an American agent." (?)

Then the talk of guns. I had to go back up and re-read. Phew. Thought the FL sun might have gotten to you, there Craig.

Karen - hee! Most definitely!

Julie Weathers said...

For whatever reason, I sent the opening chapter of Far Rider and Rain Crow to a person who does editing. They had a special going on. I thought I'd see if I could get some professional feedback on the openings to see where to go with Far Rider and if I was on track with Rain Crow.

I don't mind a tough critique. That's what I wanted. However, when the editor looks up a picture of a blue roan horse and tells me my description is wrong and I'm going to have irritated people writing in and complaining, it irks me. And when she further tells me I have obviously never read a historical novel let alone researched anything, I am further irked as several of her suggestions about what I have in the excerpt are wrong.

It makes me wonder, since I've been informed an editor will stamp reject on this because it isn't accurate when in fact it is. Just because people have an idea that this is the way things happened doesn't mean that's the way they happened.

Yes, in polite society, a woman was always chaperoned. When a woman is meeting someone for the purpose of spying, all rules of polite society go out the window. Most of the spies in the Civil War were female and they certainly weren't going about escorted.

Now I'm wondering if preconceived notions are more important than accuracy.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: My tuppence for what it's worth: stick to your guns. Your A-to-Z articles alone demonstrated to me that you know your stuff. And your comments here have convinced me you know your horses, too. Frankly, if your stories are compelling, most people won't care about the details. I mean, my goodness, Mel Gibson has made a fortune off of historical ignorance because, in the end, most people don't care. They just love a good yarn well told. And if the purists want to debate you over details, then good luck to them. They'll need it. :)

Colin Smith said...

Julie: A couple more things (I hit Publish too soon--the perennial writer's problem)... If that's the worst an editor could say about your novel, then woohoo for you! Clearly you're doing well. Also, historical fiction is about verisimilitude, because it's historical fiction. It's a given that you're going to play somewhat fast and loose with the facts. That's not to say you have fudged on points of history, but if people think you might have, most will cut you slack because they understand the rules.

Okay... I think I'm done... :)

Colin Smith said...

DISCLAIMER: My comments above to Julie should not be understood as an endorsement of sloppy research. It's an acknowledgement that a) research can only go so far--in the end you have to stop and write the novel, and b) your research will always be subservient to the story, never vice versa.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Comment Soup, as the Day Job sucks out more than its fair share of my time & spoons:

1. And yet another reason why I'm desperately seeking an agent. (Did I mention I'm doing #PitchWars this year?)

2. Another English-speaking market some people tend to forget about: New Zealand. They remember 'Straya, but Aotearoa tends to get forgotten.

3. I once had a 72-hour contract to help some law firm type a document they got from another law firm into an electronic version. One phrase we came across was that the contract would not expire until twenty years after the death of the third heir of QEII. Seeing that this was a good fifteen years before Prince George was born, we had a bit of fun speculating about this one. Did that mean Will's Firstborn's death, or Harry's death? Then the conversation turned dark.

4. I love browsing real estate sites for daydreaming purposes. Some day I shall move to Subiaco, once I have a spare $1.5M dollars. Go buy my books and help make this happen.

5. Is Shinola a type of coffee? (Sorry, still thinking about the civets.)

6. Working full-time interferes with my career.

Craig F said...

Julie: Do the research and wend it into an engrossing story. Then place your bets and roll the dice. There is no way to know how it will be received until it is free in the world. You can't win if you don't bet.

On editors: They are like everything else. There are some good one, a bunch of mediocre ones and some that don't know shit from Shinola. For those of you who know, Shinola was a brand of shoe polish.

Donna and Heidi: Yes the weather has been brutal. We have a high pressure system on each side of the state That is pushing all of our afternoon showers into humidity. It got all the way down to 82 degrees last night.

I did the fourth race around Treasure Island and was looking forward to a nice cool nap when I got home but our A/C compressor had bit the dust. Got a new project going and had to pressure wash the pool deck and enclosure for an upcoming party. Yes the weather is getting the better of me.

Megan V said...


Best of luck to you in Pitchwars! The mentors there are wonderful! I was very lucky to get feedback from them the past couple of times I entered—though I didn't get selected—and I can't express how helpful their comments were. Fresh eyes can be a fabulous thing.

Craig F said...

Excuse me. On the fourth I did the annual race around Treasure Island. The weather is getting to me. Sorry.

BJ Muntain said...

Heidi: Pitchwars looks great, but more mental energy than I can spend right now. Perhaps I'll try that another time.

Julie Weathers said...


Pitchwars is worth the effort, I think. Good luck. It will be great if you get hooked up with a good mentor.


Julie Weathers said...


I think she was so busy telling me I didn't know my butt from a hole in the ground when it came to horses and history that she didn't even notice the writing.

The MC wouldn't notice the smell of the flowers one of the men had picked and placed in the cabin because of the outhouse and chamber pot. I've lived in a house with no running water. The outhouse is so far from the house you can't smell it. Even if you do use the chamber pot, it's late at night, you put the lid on and dump it first thing in the morning in the outhouse then clean it.

On the plus side, FR fared better, kind of.

As you recall, this is the opening:

They say bad news rides a fast horse.
No one said anything about it riding a dead one, and the black destrier my uncle now rode toward me had died two years ago.

Having him ride a dead horse is a waste of ectoplasmic energy, get rid of the horse and just have him poof in.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how a historical fares when the facts don't line up with the perceptions.

Julie Weathers said...

Craig F,

Yup, story is everything.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Dear Queen of the Reef, what exactly are open market rights?

I've wondered all night. Does this apply only to the languages a book is translated in or is it more than that. Like audio formats and other doodads.

Joseph Snoe said...

I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here’s my two cents.
To follow up on Julie and Colin: Mark Twain wrote, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
And you can quote me on that.

Julie W. – I loved the opening line to Far Rider (and some of the most sparkling lines in the manuscript involved horse movements)

Heidi, her Grace – (on #3) – Intellectually (not in actual practice) I love Rule Against Perpetuities.

AJ Blythe said...

School holidays here so I've flown north (wehre it's warm) with Heckle and Jeckle to their Gran and Grumpy's house. Hence the late post.

Enjoyed reading Miss Janet's words of wisdom and all the comments. Love this place!