Okay, so today, I decided I was going to talk all about foreign rights, seeing as how Demonglass has started selling in some other countries, which is ridiculously excting. But, as I sat down to write about foreign rights, it occurred to me that I actually know very little about them, not that that should be a shock! After all, this is a blog by a newbie writer for newbie writers or aspiring writers (and my friends and family who just wanna know what I'm up to!) So instead, I'll give you some links about foreign rights by people who are experts, such as this one, which is a little dry, but very informative, and there are several posts here by agent Kristin Nelson that are very cool and helpful.
As for my own experience in selling foreign rights (and I cannot even tell you how many times I've already misspelled foreign. Damn, that's a hard word. Thank you, Spell Check!), it's been really fun to note the difference between selling those and the first sale. When Demonglass was all out there in the publishing world, getting looked over by Important Publishing Types, I was beyond stressed out. Every time Agent Holly called, my heart went into my throat, my hands started shaking... oh, it was bad.
With foreign rights, Agent Holly shoots me an email that says, "Country X wants to buy Demonglass and the sequels for X amount of dollars/Euros," and I say, "Sweet!" usually around a mouth full of cereal. So basically, that first sale is like trying to find your book a home. Foreign sales are like your book getting to go on a kick ass vacation to an awesome place. And I'm beyond thrilled at the places Demonglass is getting to go! (I'll be more forthcoming about the actual countries it's sold to after I do official stuff like sign contracts.) It's still very weird to think that a book I wrote on a metal folding table in Harvest, Alabama is going to be read by teenagers in Europe and South America.
So, with all of that in mind, here are the only things I know about Foreign Rights Sales.
1) Not every book sells overseas, and it's really hard to pinpoint why some books sell and some don't. Some of it has to do with your agent and/or publisher and their international connections. Some books are viewed as "too American" for international audiences. I was kind of surprised that Demonglass would appeal overseas, seeing as how it's set in Georgia, and it's pretty entrenched in the Southern Gothic tradition (or so I tell people when they make fun of me for writing a book about witches and faeries and vampires and what have you.) However, London plays a pretty big part in the book as it's sort of "headquarters" for the big wig witches and faeries and vampires and what have you. Plus, almost all of Book 2 is set in England. So I think that might help. Not that I had any idea of that when I was writing the book. I just picked London because A) It is my favorite city in the whole wide world, and B) the evacuation of children from London during WWII played a big part in the history of my characters. So, you know, if you wanna sell your book overseas, throw in some international flava. ;)
2) Sometimes your publisher buys your World Rights when they buy your book. If that happens, any money you get from foreign publishers goes back toward your advance from your original publisher. In some cases, that can be a good thing, but that's why it's very important to really read your contract so that you know exactly what your publisher is buying from you. It's easy to get so excited that someone is going to publish your book that you can end up giving away more than you should. And, of course, talk to your agent about it, and asks lots of questions. I'm all for asking questions. Agent Holly is lucky that I don't email her every morning and ask her how I should wear my hair.
3) Your agent will probably get a bigger commission on your foreign rights, as there are other agents involved in that process, and they need a cut of that, too. Check your agency agreement to see how much more of a commission your agent gets. (This usually applies to film and tv rights, too, and for the same reason: more agents = more money.) Oh, and that reminds me. A lot of the time, people complain about getting an agent because the agent does get a commission (usually 15%, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less), and why should they get an agent when they could just sell to publishers themselves and keep their 15%?
And to these people, I say: DUDE. You NEED an agent. Yes, people do sell to publishers without one, but it's hard, and the author almost always gets screwed. It's much better to have someone knowledgable and awesome on your side to handle all the scary business parts. A good agent is so very worth his or her 15%. Trust me, if you have a great agent, you'll be happy to hand over that 15%. (Not that you actually hand it over. The publisher sends the check to your agent, who takes the commission out, and then sends it on to you. In case you were wondering.)
So there it is. The complete sum of my knowledge of foreign rights. Expect future posts dealing with Stuff Rachel Knows Almost Nothing About, such as rugby, and The War of 1812, and knitting.