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Thread: Pitfalls of foreign publishing

  1. #1
    fantasy dweller
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    Pitfalls of foreign publishing

    Recently a Canadian publisher (new start up venture) read one of my Jan Phillips series and wants to take all three on.
    My questions are there these.
    • What if any are the pitfalls of having a book published in a foreign country? I know Canada doesn't seem like a foreign country but it is.
    • Are new small presses to be avoided? The company has only two authors as of now. The first book is scheduled to come out in mid-August.
    • Is it appropriate for me to ask to see the marketing plan for my books (gay niche) before signing a contract?
    • If I do ask to see a MP prior to signing and it's declined what then? I should say I have no reason to suspect this but the thought crossed my mind.
    • Should I accept the publishers offer of registering each book with the Library of Congress. I've registered books with the LOC before so it's no big deal.
    That's all I can think of now but others may have a different slant on this.
    Also this may not be the proper forum for these questions. I put it here because I need specific knowledge and want to avoid an opinion poll that might erupt in other less focused forums.
    Thanks for your time and consideration.

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citymouse
    What if any are the pitfalls of having a book published in a foreign country? I know Canada doesn't seem like a foreign country but it is.
    No pitfalls, as long as your book is suitable for that market. You should get someone knowledgeable to look at the contract, though. Be aware also that the Canadian book market is much smaller than that of the US or the UK. Assuming your publisher markets to the Canadian book trade, your sales may be smaller than with an equivalent publisher in the US or UK.
    Are new small presses to be avoided? The company has only two authors as of now. The first book is scheduled to come out in mid-August.
    In general, It's a good idea to wait to query a new publisher until it has actually published some books. Not only does this assure you that the publisher is able to take books all the way through the production process, it allows you to assess things like physical quality, whether or not the publisher is getting review coverage, and how it's marketing its books. New publishers often get into financial trouble (especially if they start up without a business plan), or overcommit their resources, and go out of business abruptly, sometimes without ever publishing a single book. This can be a problem for writers, leaving rights in limbo. It's really much better not to consider a publisher until it has demonstrated some staying power.
    Is it appropriate for me to ask to see the marketing plan for my books (gay niche) before signing a contract?
    You should certainly ask them how they plan to market the book. It's not terribly likely there will be a written plan, but they should know in advance what marketing strategies they will use, and you should certainly know about this.
    If I do ask to see a MP prior to signing and it's declined what then? I should say I have no reason to suspect this but the thought crossed my mind.
    Again, there probably isn't any written "plan." However, if they won't tell you at least generally how they plan to market the book, be wary. They may have no plan, or they may be one of those amateur startups that wants its authors to double as unpaid sales staff. Or they may be allergic to answering authors' questions, which is not a good sign for the future.
    Should I accept the publishers offer of registering each book with the Library of Congress. I've registered books with the LOC before so it's no big deal.
    Professional publishers always register copyright on the author's behalf. Not doing so, or expecting you to do it, is one sign of a less-than-professional publisher.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    As a bit of an amplification: the Canadian market is about a tenth of the US market. A book that you'd expect would sell 5,000 copies in the USA could be reasonably expected to sell 500 copies in Canada.

    Please be very aware of what rights you're selling ... first Canadian rights rather than First North American, for example, unless they have the ability to actually market throughout North America.

  4. #4
    fantasy dweller
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    Yikes!

    I just realized that for Canadians Canada (that marvel of beauty) is not a foreign country. My apologies. That's the trouble with being a US citizen, some of us think when we get to heaven we're going to be the only ones there!

  5. #5
    One Hit Wonder? Kasey Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citymouse
    I just realized that for Canadians Canada (that marvel of beauty) is not a foreign country. My apologies. That's the trouble with being a US citizen, some of us think when we get to heaven we're going to be the only ones there!
    Don't worry. Most people probably interpreted it the way I did--that it was a foreign country for you. =)
    Good things come to those who wait...and work their tails off!!!


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  6. #6
    Writting broad batgirl's Avatar
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    And better that than the other error, of forgetting that Canada is a foreign country, with its own currency, stamps, etc. I remember a time or two when American friends, meaning to be helpful, sent me SASEs (for photocopies of articles & citations - research) ... with US stamps.
    I appreciated the thought, of course.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Joanna_S's Avatar
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    All of my nonfiction books were published in the UK. One advantage was the dollar exchange, as the dollar is weak compared to the pound. I think the opposite is true of Canada, so be sure the money is what you expect -- get those exchange rates and realize that they are fluid. A weak US dollar can get strong and you won't get what you were hoping for or a strong dollar can get weaker and you'll get more.

    Both of my publishers either co-publish in the US or have distribution here. This is very important for sales. They also market to other countries and publish translations. Again, important for sales. Find about distribution/co-publishing to get an idea of the range for sales.

    -- Joanna

  8. #8
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joanna_S
    All of my nonfiction books were published in the UK. One advantage was the dollar exchange, as the dollar is weak compared to the pound. I think the opposite is true of Canada, so be sure the money is what you expect -- get those exchange rates and realize that they are fluid. A weak US dollar can get strong and you won't get what you were hoping for or a strong dollar can get weaker and you'll get more.

    Both of my publishers either co-publish in the US or have distribution here. This is very important for sales. They also market to other countries and publish translations. Again, important for sales. Find about distribution/co-publishing to get an idea of the range for sales.

    -- Joanna
    Yes, exchange rates are perhaps th ebiggest pitfall, in my case Euro vs Pound Sterling. When the pound is strong I get much less than I thought! Also, of course you pay a higher commission to your agent, since a subagent gets a portion. With foreign translations into a language you don't know - you can't read to find out how good the translator is.
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  9. #9
    fantasy dweller
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Please be very aware of what rights you're selling ... first Canadian rights rather than First North American, for example, unless they have the ability to actually market throughout North America.


    James, would you please expand on this. I've not heard of "First North American Rights". I take it this phrase indicates all of NA. You seem to indicate one is preferable to the other. Sorry, but clearly I have a gap in my knowledge base.
    Thanks

  10. #10
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    One isn't necessarily preferable to the other. It's just that if a company doesn't have the practical ability to market books in some area, they shouldn't buy rights in that area. Instead, you should hold onto those rights in order to sell them to a company that can market them in that region.

    First North American rights include Canada. First Canadian rights are only in Canada. If the publisher buys first US rights they can only sell the books in the USA.

    By way of an example, when Scholastic bought the rights to Harry Potter, they only bought the US rights. That left the way clear for Raincoast to buy the Canadian rights.


    If some publisher has no practical ability to sell a book throughout the world, they shouldn't be buying first World rights. Else you can sell the British and Commonwealth rights, the Australian rights, the Chinese rights, the Japanese rights, the Portugese rights, and so forth and so on, each one independently for its own advance.

  11. #11
    fantasy dweller
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    Got It! Thanks James. I'm emailing the publisher now and I want to get these issues hammered out. He's offering to take on my two POD books as well as a third as yet unpublished. I
    'm wrestling with the notion of releasing the first two as second editions or (to shed the POD tag) releasing them under different covers and or titles. If I go with that option I'll place a bold note that they were previously published as title X&Y.

    Thanks again.

  12. #12
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Do get someone qualified to look at the contract before you sign it. And be sure that this is a publisher that is capable of marketing and distributing its books (i.e., getting them reviewed in professional venues and onto brick-and-mortar bookstore shelves)--or your exposure won't be much different from what you achieved with POD.

    - Victoria

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