Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Selling rights to a previously published translated book


Have you ever received a query from Mongolia by someone who originally wrote their book in Mongolian, self-published that book in Mongolia but has now finished translating their book from Mongolian to English and would like to find an agent for their book in the English speaking market where it has not yet been published in any form?

OK, I don't speak Mongolian but I know you wanted blog posts that include Mongolia (now I've mentioned it enough, I think 😂).

Here's the reality and maybe it's a stupid thought/idea but sometimes I get stupid ideas: I wrote my first book in English and self-published it to KDP-Amazon UK and it is available in English, worldwide, and has been bought in at least eight different countries that I'm aware of. The ISBNs for all editions of this book (e-book, paperback, hardback) are mine - not Amazon's.

I am nearing the end of translating this book from English to German, and I am moving from the UK to Switzerland (German speaking part -> German speaking book market) next year. I had planned on just sticking the German edition onto Amazon as a self-published book as well, but then I had this thought: Would it be query-able for a German speaking agent? Like, what would YOU do if I queried you with an English edition of a book that was originally written in Mongolian and self-published in Mongolia?

The critical piece of info here is that you self-published it.
That means you didn't license the rights to publisher, you only offered the book for sale yourself.

If you had licensed the book to a publisher, an agent would need to see that contract to make sure you only licensed English language rights, not world rights.

If you license world rights, there's no deal to be made with you.
The deal would be with the publisher who now controls those rights.

So, you're free to query German language agents.
I have no idea how the domestic market works in Germany and Switzerland.
All that is handled by our co-agents who shop books there.

The ISBNs don't matter at all.
And most agents will want to take a look at the contract you signed with Amazon, just to make sure everything is hunky-dory.

Any questions?


Katja said...

Aww, thank you so much, Janet, for answering my question - you're the best! 😘

I am suddenly quite excited that I have a query-able book, hurrah! 🙃😊

Katja said...

P.S. The photo had me laugh out loud, by the way!!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I have nothing to add to this for Katja but to say Switzerland is a very exciting move. It's no Mongolia but what you gonna do?

My nephew is living in UK now - at UCL and plans to live in Switzerland for a time after he graduates for a job. I still have designs on living in UK for a bit. Not sure I can afford Switzerland at this point, but I sure would like a year or two there. Beautiful country.

Katja said...

E.M. Goldsmith, you CAN afford living in Switzerland if you have a job there!

When I first moved there from Germany, still working as a lab technician, I earned 2.5 times as much as in Germany for the same job. OK, you have to work 42 hours in Switzerland instead of (back then) 37.5 in Germany and 37.5 here in the UK, and only 35 in France!

But... you're going to get dizzy looking at your payslip at the end of the month...
And then you don't even pay that much tax. Great health insurance system as well.
I believe that you as an American might be used to sitting at the grindstone for many hours per week and little holiday, yes?!

Also, there is a lovely women's writer group in Zurich, run by AMERICANS! Everyone in the city speaks English, you know.

And then there are the Alps, the lakes, the fresh air and SPACE. 😊

Every weekend, we can go and watch Liverpool together in the English pubs in Zurich, so come on over, Elise.

You don't need to go through a specific immigration point system like in the UK now, just a job. (OK, this applies to Germans, might be different for Americans but when I first lived there, I met plenty of Americans who worked and lived there!)

Kae Ridwyn said...

Katja, you describe it so beautifully, now I want to come over too! Sigh. A little too far from here :(

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Katja Those are all the reasons my nephew is pursuing work in Switzerland once he finishes University. He has an intern position for the Swiss bank in London where he is in school which will transition into full time provided he does well in both his studies and work. I am hoping to visit my nephew next April if all goes well (he's off in April so we are going to travel which will include, with any luck, a visit to Liverpool when they host Watford in early April). We shall see but I will definitely be visiting Switzerland if my nephew ends up living there but that will be in Autumn of 2024.

Katja said...

Kae, E.M., I can't wait for you to come over to Zurich. If you come in the summer, we will jump off the bridge right into one of Zurich's two rivers for a cooling splash and let the river carry us before we get out again.

The water is so clean, it comes straight from the Zurich lake that hits the city centre.
Otherwise we can swim in the lake, too!

We will go hiking in the mountains, if you want, or, if you come in winter, we can go skiing or sledging or take a real snowy train trip to the highest train station in Europe (Jungfraujoch) at 3,454 metres (11,332 ft).

(The Swiss trains and their engineering are STUNNING.)

Or, we might go on the old tram in Zurich that trots across the city in winter and have cheese fondue, windows all steamed up.

Zurich is so very charming, and in the countryside, I can translate for you, yay.

I'll be moving next summer, latest, I hope.

See you there! 😘

NLiu said...

Switzerland is lovely. Bring a warm towel for after getting out of the lake!

Also, I want that camel.