Subsidiary Rights and Tie-in Products
BY KAREN WHIDDON
Panelists: Larry Norton, Deb Werksman, Elizabeth Jennings, David Wilk, Bella
Andre, Shirley Hailstock, Cindy Proctor-King, Denise Grover Swank, Mary Campisi.
The discussion began with the question of which subsidiary rights are important. An author announced
she had just signed the first seven-figure, print-only deal with Mira. After all the applause, the discussion began
A publisher said the digital environment presents an enormous global opportunity. English language
books are big in other countries as well as the foreign language version. After all, e-books are global. We’ve
left the information age and are in the age of change. Global connectivity is more important than “What’s in
it for me?”
Next question: how do you structure your relationships to maximize your opportunities? A best-selling
author said she wants to maximize her returns. She feels the strongest return on investment is digital content
in English being sold not only in the US, but the UK, CA, and AU. She also talked about audio books
being a major market. Another author mentioned that there are two billion English readers in the world.
What is the number one language after English? A best-selling author said she felt it was German.
A publisher talked about price points and the author said she kept them between $4.99 and $5.99.
The question was asked if authors should try to hire translators themselves. The best-selling author mentioned
she had made this mistake and that you have to hire the best of the best and you get what you pay
for. It’s dicey if you don’t speak the language. This author finally used a foreign rights agent and was much
happier with that. Another author said the translator is your ambassador to that country. The translator will
actually make cuts to the manuscript, not an editor.
Another question addressed costs. An author said $10,000 to $15,000 per book. She said that except for
Germany, the digital market is not there for other countries. She feels it will be someday, but not right now.
Another author said it’s eight eurocents per word. Other things authors can do are translate their facebook
pages and fill out Author Central pages at other country sites. Also note that each country describes categories
of books differently. Learn the proper descriptive terms for your book in the language, and use those
terms to make tags on Amazon.
One author believes that companies will be created in two to three years just to handle foreign rights
and translation. Many agencies now have a foreign rights department as do publishers.
One author talked about how authors are not made aware when a foreign edition comes out so they
cannot do promo. She feels it would be wonderful if this could change. She said if authors know when a foreign
edition is being released, they should contact the publisher who will help them do promotion. It was
also noted that foreign companies only pay once per year.
A best-selling author then talked about the London Bookfair and how she went and, despite being told
authors could not go and no one would meet with her, she got lots of meetings and made deals. She said it’s
all about making doors open for her.
A question was asked about whether agents were willing to represent foreign rights only. An author suggested
other authors contact foreign rights sub agents directly. They already work with American agents. A
publisher mentioned that there are scouts already in the U.S. working for foreign publishers. Often they rent
space in the offices of American literary agents. Another author said it’s impossible to find an agent to represent
foreign rights only.
The best-selling author said you have to look at the break-even point. Another author mentioned once
you earn back the money you’ve spent on translations, you have sales until the end of time. Yet a third author
said we need a lot more education and discussion about these rights. Continued on page 9
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