THE BLOG
11/18/2015 03:08 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2016

'Translated Into 20 Languages!' Self-published Authors Are Selling Foreign Rights -- Just Like the Big Publishers

The big traditional publishers often promote their books by highlighting the number of languages the books has been translated into. With the global publishing marketplace easier to access than ever, self-published authors are selling foreign rights to grow their audience around the world and promote the number of foreign rights sales to increase sales at home - just like the big publishers.

When I wrote Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man, I intended it for North American men who, like me, were bewildered by the confusing messages they heard about what it means to be a man. The book's goal was to share insights that many men weren't taught about the importance of showing leadership and taking responsibility in their marriages and families - traits that women told me they love and respect in a man.

At first, I hadn't thought of trying to sell foreign rights. I thought men in other cultures were different and weren't as confused as we were. But when I received emails from publishers in Mexico and Poland interested in the book, I realized that while cultures may be different, human nature is similar. There were men in other countries who were just as bewildered.

When someone now asks: what's the goal of my book? I reply, "Changing the world -- the whole world, one man at a time." Being able to access the global publishing marketplace makes it possible to reach parts of the world that doesn't read English.

So far, foreign rights have been sold to publishers in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. I've received emails from readers in many countries saying how the book is making a difference in their marriages and families.

Here's what I did:

Prepared an exciting email about the book. I included a summary, reviews, endorsements, and links to the book's web site and media coverage.

Researched foreign markets: In many countries there are foreign rights agents who specialize in selling books from other countries to publishers in their own country. Good agents know the publishers in their markets. Agents work on commission of the advance and royalties the book earns.

To find foreign agents, I Googled "foreign rights agents." The results included publishers and literary agents' web pages with names and contact information of their foreign rights agents.

Sent the email. When I received a positive response, I sent the book with copies of reviews and other media coverage. When there was a new rights sale or media review, I shared it with them.

Offers. The foreign rights contracts I received granted the publisher only the right to publish the book in their language. All other rights are retained by the author. I learned that a common approach to negotiating an advance is to ask for the royalties for the first printing. To calculate this, the offer includes the number of copies in the first printing, the planned retail price and royalty rate.

As I sold foreign rights, I kept promoting it in the book's publicity - just like the big publishers.

Elliott Katz is the author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man translated into more than 20 languages..