View Full Version : Submitting an already published book to the US Market

Grenouille Bleue
08-15-2013, 06:49 AM

I am a french published author, and am really lucky to be doing pretty well in France (got three books published, two more due in January). One of them got an award and sold more than 30,000. It might seem very low for you folks in the US but it's pretty nice for France. At least my publisher seems happy ( :D ) and it allowed me to quit my job and be a full-time writer.

Anyway, here's the thing: my publisher will be trying to sell the foreign rights to some other countries at the Berlin Fair, and he thinks it might make it in spanish and german. But he told me the english market was much more difficult to penetrate - only the biggest french best-sellers would get a chance to be bought and translated. Obviously, this isn't my case.

I don't want to quit so easily, since I believe (me being the obnoxious egocentric ego-maniac jerk I am :D ) that my books might interest the US readers. So I was wondering what my first move should be.

- Forget about it and get packing ?
- Try and find an effective agent in the US ?
- Get the book translated in english THEN send it to an agent ?
- Find a lonely publisher daughter to sleep with ?

I know I'm grasping for straws here, but I don't know the US market AT ALL and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot for your time !

08-15-2013, 09:48 PM
We had a member ask a similar question regarding the German market. I'm hoping someone might be able to help this time, as I personally have no idea how this would be done.

Have you discussed this with the publisher, or do they just want to let it drop?

Do let us know how it goes!

Drachen Jager
08-16-2013, 03:05 AM
1) Get an agreement from your agent that they're okay with you seeking representation in English-speaking markets. Get it in writing, no matter how friendly you are with your agent, make sure it's solid. Verbal agreements tend to change in the participants minds over time and if you want to avoid future conflict you need this document.

2) Go get an agent. 30,000 sold in France should be enough to pique a good agent's interest. You don't need to have an entirely translated work to feel out agents if you're a successful author, but it might help. I'd think you'd want to at least have the first chapter translated, although your English seems pretty good, are you sure you wouldn't be better off translating it yourself and just getting it professionally edited?

Grenouille Bleue
08-18-2013, 07:34 PM
Thanks SaraP for your cheers :D
I don't think the publisher will let it drop, but the girl who handles foreign rights clearly said that the US were the toughest market to get into, especially with crime novels, since there already are so many native writers in the bookshelves.

Drachen Jager:
1) We french don't use agents as a rule. There might be one or two exceptions, but that's what they are - exceptions. Even those that sell more than 1 million copies won't have an agent but deal directly with their publisher.

However, you raise a very good point. I'll try to get a writing from my publisher himself :D

2) I'm glad you think my english is very good, but I can't help but feel that I'm a bit rusty, and ill-equipped to translate a book (especially one supposed to be kind of "hip", with a lot of slang) in english. I'll perhaps give the first chapter a try, though.

So you think I should try and get an agent instead of, say, write directly to the foreigns right department of the big publishers ?

My publisher took the trouble of making a leaflet for Frankfurt, do you think I should include it in my mails ?


Thanks a lot for your help. I'm really excited about eventually being read in english :p

Drachen Jager
08-19-2013, 04:20 AM
I think the printed material on the leaflet would be great to include, but most agents won't accept images (and it's not like the cover of your book is going to bowl them over).

If I were in your shoes, I'd find three or four good agents you think you could work with (Query Tracker is a good place to start looking, be sure to look at the agency websites, and check the Bewares, Recommendations and Background Checks forum before you go with anyone)

Write them a concise letter explaining just what you explained above. You're a moderately successful French-language author, and you'd like to expand to an English-speaking market. Give them that outline of the book so they know what they're looking at and explain that the book has not been translated.

Ask a few questions. Agents are very approachable. In fact you could post the question in the "Ask the Agent" forum. There are several agents who regularly visit there and are happy to give you the inside scoop. They might even show some interest.

08-19-2013, 05:09 AM
In fact you could post the question in the "Ask the Agent" forum. There are several agents who regularly visit there and are happy to give you the inside scoop. They might even show some interest.

I thought about suggesting this too. Give it a go, see what kind of replies you get - then report back. :D

Grenouille Bleue
08-19-2013, 11:43 AM
Thanks a lot, both of you. I'll check with my publisher then create a topic in the correct sub-forum. Hopefully, those agents will be able to answer my questions :D

08-20-2013, 06:14 AM
From what I hear if you get in with the German market you could make a lot of sales and money with that alone. Then a US agent might be more interested. Just an idea from someone who has never even tried to get an agent, but goes to a lot of writers meetings, and conferences and stuff.

08-23-2013, 10:05 PM
A Dutch friend of mine had three chapters of her bestselling book translated into English, then found a British agent with the help from a British author she knew. From there, she made it to the US. Three chapters can't be that expensive to translate, but you need a professional literary translator for the job - that is, one who thinks like a writer, knows all the English-language publishing industry standards and doesn't translate slavishly word by word. The best place online to look for them is ProZ.com - there're some seriously professional people there.

09-08-2013, 10:19 PM
Hi. I htink htisisd ggod advice; a relabel and honest agent (unless the daughter thing really happens).
30000 is good, real good I thinbk.
Maybe a way to get into the US market is to have your book on Kindle electronically (you can do that yourself provided copyright is still yours). It may not generate any sales ( I have had some material there, with to date $ 2.-, have a look:

but for you, it might work as a way to market your succesful book (especially if you self-translate a chapter or two and post it). Good luck, bon chance !