The fall Self-Publishing Advice Conference saw ALLi launch the start of the Indie Author Translation Rights Program. If you missed it, you can catch up with the first installment here and the second installment here. Today, we’re thrilled to present Indie Author Translation Rights Program session three.
Indie Author Translation Rights Program Session ThreeLearn how to sell book translation rights as an indie author #indieauthor #selfpublishing #IARTG #ASMRG #writingcommunity Click To Tweet
Orna Ross: Hello, and welcome. This is the third outing for the Indie Author Rights Program run by the Alliance of Independent Authors. And what we are doing here is looking at indie authors selling publishing rights, licensing publishing rights, and we’re doing this experiment over six months in which we come together and talk about the challenges and we have a group of intrepid authors who are trying out to see if they can actually organize some licensing, some sales in advance of or some meetings at London Book fair to sell rights. So and if we just kind of go around the group and begin with Michael Anderle of LMVPN, who is also part of the advisory panel for the program, Michael, would you want to say hello and introduce yourself.
Michael Anderle: All right. Happy to say hello, certainly Michael Anderle of LMVPN. We’re a little bit more advanced than just trying to sell our first rights but the reality is, I’m going to allow Judith of our company to speak to the rights, it’s within her purview for what’s going on. So Judith, do you want to take the next round real quick?
Judith Anderle: Yeah, thank you, Mike. Thank you everybody for joining in, for listening in. It’s been an exciting time before the Frankfurt Book Fair and post Frankfurt Book Fair. We actively sought meetings and engagements to The Fair by narrowing down a list of the whole brochure that’s available through the Frankfurt Book Fair, narrowed it down to 60 pages of which there were 10 companies within each page, sent out invitation emails. And out of those, there were about four meetings that came to fruition, which I believe really helped us to kick off an opportunity to meet right sellers and buyers, including a company in the US that has an innovative software program. And, Orna, let me know if you want me to cover it here, or we can come back and Mike can cover the software program, but I think it’d be something interesting for the group to be aware of.
Orna Ross: Definitely, let’s talk about that before we finish up this evening. And Ethan Ellenberg joining us from New York today.
Ethan Ellenberg: I’m an agent of long standing, I worked in publishing for many years. My agency represents all kinds of commercial fiction and nonfiction and we also do children’s books. I’ve been selling rights for more than 30 years. I attend Frankfurt and London and I have a great background in selling translation rights.
Orna Ross: Fantastic. Thank you. And John joining us from *Sharjah* at the book fair, as he almost always is.
John Malinowski: Hi Orna, hi everybody, John Malinowski from PubMatch. It’s an online rights toolkit to help authors and publishers and agents to manage their rights and to hopefully sell more rights around the world.
Orna Ross: Fantastic. Thank you. And then we have our panel of authors.
Sure, I’m Dakota Krout. I’m the owner and president of Mountaindale Press.
Danielle Krout: And I’m the CEO and this month has been very good working through PubMatch, it’s a great software John, I really appreciate it. I do have quite a few questions from going through it, but we can happily discuss that later.
Orna Ross: Fantastic. Thank you. And Joe.
Joe Cawley: Yeah, I’m Joe Cawley a memoir author. And I’m happy to be on the sort of trial period of this rights program. Yeah, as was said before, PubMatch is a great software. Lots of questions again, especially from a nonfiction side. But yeah, looking forward to the rest of the program.
Orna Ross: Fantastic. Thank you, Joe. And Barry. Hi.
Barry Hutchison: Hello. Yes, back in Scotland or just back. I arrived back from California a few days ago where it was 36 degrees, and here it’s minus four degrees. So that’s quite a change to the system. Yeah, I’m Barry Hutchison. I write comedy science fiction, comedy superhero fiction and under the pen name, JD Kirk. I write Scottish crime fiction, which is what I’m really looking to sell. The foreign rights, that’s what I’m focusing my attention on at the moment. So I’ve also been using PubMatch. I don’t have too many questions about it, it seemed quite straightforward but I maybe didn’t dig as deep as some of the other guys. So I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to ask.
Orna Ross: That’s great. And we’re looking forward to hearing how the month when you in a little while and apologies tonight from Skye McKinnon, who unfortunately can’t attend, she’s feeling really unwell and spent most of the day running to and from the bathroom. So, sending get well wishes to Skye and she’ll be with us next time. And Sacha just a quick word from you so everyone knows who you are.
Sacha Black: Hello, I’m Sacha Black, and I freelance for the Alliance of Independent Authors and I help to run the conference. And I also write nonfiction, writing craft books and young adult fantasy and I am here at helping to make sure that A, these meetings happen and that we have something that is accessible for everybody at all of the levels of indie author realm at the end, and also representing the authors who are sort of starting to think about this in perhaps a year or 18 months. So I’m trying to suck up all of your knowledge. Thank you in advance.
Orna Ross: Fantastic. Okay. So yeah, shall we begin and with the questions about the platform? So I think that might be the best place and then we come back to each person, probably, you know, as you’re discussing the questions we get a sense of what happened for you during the month. But what we want to do with this part of the session is just, you know, hear how you got on and what sort of progress has been made and what the roadblocks and challenges were for you. So yeah, Danielle, do you want to kick off?
Danielle Krout: Sure, sure. So, yes, PubMatch was awesome, very user friendly. I was able to get through pretty much everything. I love the video that you did as well, John, that was very helpful. But for me, my questions kind of boiled down to when we’re actually putting in the rights for each book, like, what we’re essentially looking for or offering. And so I was wondering, there was a couple of questions with that. And unfortunately, with the time difference, which I didn’t realize, for the daylight savings happening in the UK, I’m going to have to duck out because my nanny is leaving so I’ll take care of my daughter, but Dakota can take over. But essentially what it boiled down to was I’d really like to get the panel’s feedback on essentially the flat fee versus royalty. I just was kind of lost as to what to offer for each book or Whether it’s the flat fee or the royalty, and then kind of the sums of money that I put in, whether it’s the royalty if it’s like, 10%, I’m not sure, or the flat fee. I know I think, John, in your video you have 1000. So that’s where I kind of got tripped up is what do we offer? And what has been your experience, essentially?
John Malinowski: Yeah, I think Ethan could talk about the royalty aspect and what to charge. I’m sure he’s grimacing right now with respect to that, but I’ll let Ethan take on that first. And then I can talk a little bit about the flat fee versus royalty options and where to place them.
Ethan Ellenberg: I’m not sure I follow you yet. Excuse me on PubMatch is there a suggestion that publishing rights should be optioned for a flat fee and not an advancement of royalty contract? Is that correct?
John Malinowski: That is correct. That’s something that that we created over the last two years. We did it for John Wiley and Sons who requested it. The reason they requested it was they didn’t want, they no longer wanted to sell in those lower tier territories, Bulgaria, Croatia, in the Middle East, China, and they wanted to concentrate on the higher level territories. So what they wanted to do was offer a low, very low advance with no royalty, a short term relatively and a standard print run with no negotiation options. So we instituted that.
We made it live probably in May, end of May beginning of June. And since that time, I think that they’ve had probably 40 to 50 flat rate deals done on an automated basis. And in those territories, by the way, you can’t even go to Wiley for those for those rights, they refer everybody back to PubMatch to buy the rights so that they don’t have the back and forth negotiation, the contract terms, everything is done on a quick basis.
They click and buy, Wiley authorizes it and then the contract is sent, which the buyer then either signs electronically or prints it out as a PDF, signs it as an original, if that’s what is required, and sends it back. PubMatch collects the money via either credit card or wire transfer. Once we collect the money, the deal is done. Wiley then transfers the file to the buyer. And the deal is done. And it’s been very very, you know, successful so far as they’re sort of testing it out.
Orna Ross: What do we think about Ethan?
Ethan Ellenberg: Well, it’s a new model. It’s really making a virtue out of a vice, if you will. Because in the past, we’ve run up against the problems that Wiley has, which are that these small markets. The print runs are often small. There is no reprinting. There is no inventory or restocking. It’s really what we would call magazine, newsstand publishing, or print one publishing, where there’s a printing of the book. And that’s all she wrote. Nothing happens after that. The publisher doesn’t reprint, there are no royalties, no one’s reporting. So we live with that in the markets that were referred to, and never happy about it.
But we understood that this was a certain style of publishing in Europe, literally books regarding the newsstand and not the bookstore. There’s such a thing in Italy still, and in the Far East, small markets that were doing this kind of thing. I don’t particularly object to it in the sense that it’s a free market transaction. And if the print run really mimics the royalty, it’s fine. The only issue is, and this is an ongoing issue sometimes is that some people do reprint, is the author consulted and allowed to give their opinion about this transaction?
You know, if the advance is $500, and they print 2000 copies, that’s one thing. But if the advance is $500, and someone’s printed 5000 and another 5000 and I’ve not been consulted, that that’s something else. But I certainly understand Wiley’s desire to formalize and standardize a transaction and to work in a small market where people cannot afford the friction and the amount of time it takes to get this done.
So PubMatch is providing a very valuable service and saying like, “Well, this is it guys, you know, we expect you to abide by these rules, click and spent and clicking over. So I don’t think it’s fundamentally wrong in any sense of the word. But it does sever, to some degree, of success from from royalty in advance. In other words, you’re getting a flat fee, hopefully that print run approximates it. You’re no longer being consulted. It has its place, but you could see why it would alarm authors as you climb up the tree of success, where royalties are not no longer part of the picture.
John Malinowski: I’d like to add to that, in that Wiley has a tremendous backlist, and they’re no longer, you know, actively selling the backlist. So this makes that backlist live again. And so that’s what we’ve been seeing that the backlist is being sold more so than the front list. And we control the front list with Wiley in terms of the metadata coming in. So if they’re going to be selling their active list, those titles may not come on PubMatch right away. So what they’re selling is mainly the backlist when they’re doing this. So there’s an advantage to scaling their income from from the backlist. Oh,
Judith Anderle: I had a question. I hear the discussion around print runs. And because we’re mainly focused on the digital side, how is that applicable to the digital side? Is it still the same discussion or flat fee for these markets where they’re smaller is still a good idea. Because in the print is not an issue, right? It doesn’t come into play.
John Malinowski: Well, it’s only the print that is being offered right now. Not the digital. So we don’t have any data on that or I’m not sure Wiley really wants to do that right now. So it’s really just the print.
Orna Ross: Okay. All right. Thank you. And is this setting a precedent for, I mean, is PubMatch looking at doing similar things with other companies, other publishing houses.
John Malinowski: Yeah, we are. This was done as a beta program with Wiley that encompassed over two years of programming. We also did a reprint option for Wiley and Wiley India. And there’s probably been over 1000 reprint deals with Wiley India on this automated basis. It seems that there’s really some major issues with the Indian companies. And I’ve heard it’s also with Harper and McGraw and others that have major houses in India and so we’ve sort of basically formalized it, made it easy, making sure editors got the notification that the reprint was requested. The editors then okay those deals, and then the deal is automatically done within, I think, two clicks and they’ve got their rebrand deal.
Orna Ross: Does that have any relevance for authors?
John Malinowski: Well, yeah, I mean, in terms of the flat fee or the reprint you’re talking about.
Orna Ross: Yeah, the concept of the flat fee, which I think for every copyright owner goes, “Oh, you know, don’t like that.”
Michael Anderle: Yeah. So, for instance, we have a significant backlist already. And I was going to, it leads into one of my questions, which is you’d mentioned or it’s predicated on, there’s a list of tiered countries where it’s just too much effort to try to do anything with them. So is it possible to acquire this list of tiered countries where, you know, we might decide, you know what? We’re just going to make all of these books available for $100 apiece, you know, for a year or something and just knowing that there’s too much effort to deal and if they’re wanting to be legit, then great.
But they’re not our focus, which kind of goes back to Is there a way to, and this goes, I think, back to Danielle’s original question, is there a way to figure out a suggested license fee based on how much a book or a series has made in English, worldwide or even local and the size of the market? For instance, you know, you wouldn’t sell the rights for German versus Italy, you know, they would be too, I would presume they’re going to be two different amounts, Ethan or or John.
John Malinowski: I’ll let Ethan take that one.
Ethan Ellenberg: Well, I think it’s like any other kind of deal making, you know, you have to decide what you think the market is for that book. And you have to come with a value proposition into that market. So that’s the way I would look at it. I don’t find it objectionable for saying in the sense that, again, prior, in the old days, it was clear in a number of countries that the advance would earn out the first printing. And that would be it. They might have a legal right to reprint and the legal obligation to pay royalties. But the real transaction was done the day that contract for sign and the payment was made.
The rest of that contract was just structured differently. The more easy you make it to be legal, the more people will be legal. And this is what saved the book business when the music business evaporated is Amazon was there creating a legal marketplace to buy digital books, fairly inexpensively quickly and safely. So I think it’s great in that sense that you’re creating a legal market, you’re creating a fundable market, you’re creating an accessible market.
The danger is when you make a poor judgment or you don’t have the whole transaction in front of you, and the book that’s going to sell 10,000 copies goes to 250 dollars, then you got a problem. And severing royalty and equity from success is a dangerous concept. But it has its place. And we’re all looking at KU and platforms that are also treating royalties quite a bit differently. So I think it’s something that really needs to be fluid about, we want compliance, we want legality, we want us to sell, these are all good things
Orna Ross: What about term? What about term for these contracts? How long are they for?
Dakota Krout: So in the video that John put up it said 1-3 years and I’m kind of wondering as well, like, what is the experience that people are getting or good, you know, good returns.
John Malinowski: In terms of what, what they’re offering it for, the number of years you’re asking?
Dakota Krout: Yeah, yeah. What it is, like, I believe in your video said that a one to three years is usually where you want to have it. But I was just wondering more along the lines of specifically are you seeing, like, two years and that’s where people are picking up the rights three years and that’s where people are going? That’s kind of more what I was thinking.
John Malinowski: We’re not seeing any standardization on that, to be honest with you, and you know, unfortunately, there’s no standardization of what you should be selling your rights for in the larger markets or the smaller markets. It’s a very negotiable and a very well kept secret by by publishers and agents.
So you know, it’s what you can get for it. What we recommend to indie authors or self published authors, we say keep the price, the advanced low, keep the the term fairly low, you know, to one to three years so that you have an option to resell that if it doesn’t work, but the fact that you are selling the rights, even at a low rate, it’s still going to benefit you, it’s found money, you could use it for promotion to sell more rights to other territories.
So, you know, getting it out there is is really important. And if you try to overprice it, you’re not going to sell it. So that’s on the, you know, and that’s in the flat rate deals, the negotiated rates with royalties is a different story. You know, you can price it accordingly, you can price a little higher, and enable the “make me an offer” button so that, you know, people are going to make you an offer naturally. And it’s just going to be a back and forth until you both agree on the terms.
At that point, once you agree, you change the terms in PubMatch for whatever you agree to. Then the seller can just click and buy those terms are automatically embedded into the contract that’s in PubMatch. and off you go.
Orna Ross: And it’s worth saying that though, you know getting the first sale or two or three is key, it gets easier after that and maybe more negotiable land in terms of what you can, you can ask. Okay, next question.
Joe Cawley: I’ve got a question on that. Unless until we kind of have a reference rate, or reference point, John, for what’s a standard or a good royalty rate or a deal, then I guess for us at the moment is more, it’s better just to have a make an offer kind of deal, unplug, match.
John Malinowski: Well, the “make me an offer” you’re going to put in your advance, and you’re going to put in your royalty, you’re going to put in your print run and the term, you’re going to include all that information. And so they know what you want for it. So they’re going to come back and they’re going to say, all right, maybe I don’t want to do four years or three years. Maybe I only want to do two years and the print run instead of 2000 is going to be 1000. So that’s negotiation points that are going to come back to you. So you’re just not putting it out there and say “make me an offer” because no one really knows what what you want for it. But at least once they see what what you want for it initially, they can then counter and then you go from there back and forth.
Barry Hutchison: So is there an argument they are then to when you’re setting the advance to set it, you know, higher than you would maybe otherwise have done? Because obviously whatever you said, they’re going to come back with a counteroffer. So I suppose it makes sense to just price it a bit higher for those bigger territories?
John Malinowski: Absolutely, absolutely. And you know, you if you’re not getting any action on that, you can always reduce the price down so that’s always the option that you can go with so the charges going a little higher than you normally maybe want is probably a good idea. It’s all negotiable.
Orna Ross: And just returning to Judith’s good question on ebooks. And so the conversation here is very print dominated. And is that still both Ethan and John, if you could comment on this, is that still the case? Are we are we still in a situation where, you know, rights, licensing rights sales are predominantly print still and where do ebooks come in here?
Ethan Ellenberg: By my experience? No, I mean, everyone’s doing ebooks now. It’s really a universal format, and they’re becoming bigger and bigger, Germany, based on the last conversation I had with my co agent, they were about 20% or more topping up, heading up towards 30% of sales. Audiobooks have succeeded in Germany now and they’re that 10 to 20% level. Almost every single contract, even with any of our Eastern European partners will include ebooks as well as the audio books that are still not being done in Eastern Europe. And let me just go backwards for a second because I think I can add an element to the pricing issue.
There is a method to the madness. If you take the expected cover price of the book, stop there. What is your kind of book being sold for in this foreign market? Let’s say it’s 10 euros, and you take a fairly common royalty rate, let’s say 6%. And you multiply that out and you get one euro per book sale, and you plug that into the estimated print run and a net sale of 60% you will come up with a number and so the advances traditionally are factored on earning out, on being earned out.
So the smaller markets, the reason why you got an $800 advance is because the book was priced at $3 and you are getting 45 cents a book and they hope to sell 600 books. So for our new authors here, you could sit down with these three data points, put together at least some version of reality, and at least feel confident in yourself that you’ve priced the book so you would get a royalty for every book sold.
But that does change when you get into the higher markets where the print runs are six and eight and 10,000 copies and where you’re hoping to be reprinted over a five or seven or 10 year period, then it’s harder to price. But in the small markets, again, the local cover price, a traditional royalty of six or 8%. And the expected first printing net sale that will give you a number which in the past has been the advanced number that a sub rights agent at a Random House or a Bloomsbury would use to negotiate that contract.
Barry Hutchison: That’s really useful.
Judith Anderle: Yeah, that’s why the print run keeps on coming up so much, right. And I was wondering, why does the print, and to your point is because it’s part of the equation.
Ethan Ellenberg: The print run is going to be the net sale of the book.
Orna Ross: Yeah, so given that we’re also talking about selling e rights so and audio rights also, how do we factor that in?
Ethan Ellenberg: In my mind, you have to hit a success factor and you have to expand the print run discussion to “I’m sell 1200 books, I’m going to sell 3000 ebooks and I’m going to sell 1000 audiobooks, what does that look like? The three revenue columns and then see where the advance *inaudible* there *inaudible* will not include audio rights in any deal unless the publisher says to her “I am publishing an audio edition.
I want to negotiate those rights to *inaudible* audiobook. She’s not throwing rights into a basket and that’s when we get additional advanced. You know in China, *inaudible* separate. Russia is similar too. You’ll get an advance that says 1700 dollars for print rights, $300 or ebook rights. And you will really see upfront that they are looking into editions with two income potentials.
Judith Anderle: Oh I see.
Joe Cawley: Is it, I mean, it’s very useful information. Is it possible to put that kind of formula on the private group? So we’ve got a little way of working it.
Orna Ross: Yes. So what’s going to happen, each of these sessions will be turned into a transcript and the most significant information from each of the sessions will be put into a downloadable booklet. That will probably happen something on that this side of Christmas.
Sacha Black: So I was just going to add to that we’ve got the first one is with our transcriber. I think that’s the right way you say it, so. Yeah, definitely.
Orna Ross: So yeah. song on the way. Okay, next question.
Dakota Krout: I will keep going as long as you have people that are not doing.
Orna Ross: Yes, please.
Dakota Krout: So this one is actually for Judith more specifically. So, I believe that you have someone in Germany, I think Jans who is running your social media campaign and I’m just wondering how how does that work with this? Like, do you have a separate contract with him for the social media work or was that part of your original contract to get the rights into Germany?
Judith: Outstanding question, as a matter of fact, we met with a German attorney while we were in Frankfurt because I was getting concerned as to German laws in working with a German national in the way that we’ve been working. So the Jans is a fan who approached us three years ago and said to Michael, have you thought about translating your books into German? I have a company that translates newspapers for hotels, you know those those flyers that go into, if they still do, under the doors, and I love your books, I would like to translate them.
So believe it or not, there was a handshake and they’ve been working in that relationship based on conversations but then they decided to have some type of royalty split but there’s no formal entity for LMVPN yet in Germany and so what we do is he basically, for lack of a better word, is a contract work. But you know, within agreed upon royalty split now.
The uniqueness about Jans is because he was a fan and so he started emulating everything that Mike did here in the US. It said, “Okay, how did you become successful? How did you build your Facebook page?” and he literally did everything that Mike was doing it, started doing it in German and obviously he puts, you know, his effort into it. So he manages the fans and the social media accounts and so when we’re out there, he organizes fan meetings so that they can come and meet Mike.
And, and he really is a, you know, like a sub owner without any contractual agreement or rights but he really takes that to heart. And so up to now that’s the way we’ve been working. He manages the social media, he takes all the ads that we take, and he creates and he translates them into German, he takes the Facebook tactics, and I mean, excuse me, the Amazon tactics, and then he puts them into German, is that correct, Mike?
Michael Anderle: It is correct. And too, it’s all one package, Dakota. So not only is he handling the translation, but there’s a recognition that you can’t do translation by yourself without having a natural speaker in that country to facilitate the marketing of it. And so he has that piece of it as well. And of course, the better he markets, the better his income is.
Judith Anderle: Right. So basically, it comes down to the same basics right? Whatever was making Mike successful here in the US has been extrapolated into Germany with a native speaker. Now I can tell you that it sounds like oh, piece of cake. We tried to do that in Spanish and came, I mean, hit a wall as far as revenue’s concerned. Awareness was really high, a lot of engagement in Spanish, the people were like, “Oh, we love this, they would share with other people.” I mean, in the hundreds, right, which to us were big numbers, and they loved and commented, no buys, no purchases, and we believe it’s because, you know, Latin America is nascent when it comes to the ebook market. Even audio is new, and that’s okay.
Because, you know, we’re going to be pioneers in the market as it is, but I just want to caveat that although it sounds like you know, okay, a plug in recipe, market and just, translate, it also has to do with whether the market is ready for it. And Germany obviously is based on all the discussions that are occurring right now.
Orna Ross: So it is working.
Michael Anderle: The latest book hit two in the German store 200 and something. So it is very much working.
Judith Anderle: He’s active, Jans’s actively engaged in the social media space just like Mike was.
Orna Ross: Got it. Okay, good. And anyone else got a question?
Barry Hutchison: Another quick question about so more but the process after PubMatch, really. Like so. I mean, I’ve set up kind of the main book that I want to try and sell rates for. I’m going to set up the rest of that series as well so the whole series is there. But kind of at this stage without going to the BookFair and stuff, what’s the best way of kind of drawing attention to that, you know, trying to get the attention of foreign publishers without kind of meeting them face to face at this stage. Obviously, that’s plan for London. But is there a way of using PubMatch to kind of do some internal promotion of this almost and trying to target publishers who are on there.
John Malinowski: No, there’s really not a way, an internal mechanism to promote your book at a book fair. There’s certain things you can do by listing, if you’re going to be at an affair or have your book with somebody at a book fair, you can indicate the booth number. But we touched on this last session, that the marketing and the promotion of your rights really has to be done organically through yourself.
And, you know, social media was a perfect example. You’ve got to get the word out there and PubMatch is not a marketing platform. At least not yet, but it just gives you the tools to provide the information for your marketing effort when you go out and you contact publishers who may be at a book fair, or not. And just do your, you know, your knocking on doors. And yeah, the painstaking process of finding, like, publishers that might want to buy the rights.
Barry Hutchison: And is that something you would look at later on because obviously, if you have publishers who are on the platform, looking to buy rights, and you have publishers looking to sell rates, if there was a way to match those up within the site, then that would be would be ideal?
John Malinowski: Right now we have a weekly matchmaking, it’s all done through the subject categories that all the members put on their publishing company and the titles. So every week, there’ll be new matches coming on and suggestions on who you might want to contact. We’re also going to be looking at doing some internal ways to feature your book throughout PubMatch with when people are doing searches, similar to Amazon, that when somebody is searching for a specific genre, your titles will come up automatically as suggestions.
We’re also talking about putting in a Google AdWords campaign included with a feature title or your marketing plan within PubMatch so that it would go outside of PubMatch and and hit certain targeted people so that people contact you organically that way. So we are talking about that and just had a conversation with my lead IT yesterday about all of that, and so he’s putting together a program for me to look at initially to see how that was going to be done.
Barry Hutchison: Sounds good.
Michael Anderle: Hey, John, whenever you’re looking at the aspect of matching up buyers and sellers, is it that the buyers don’t want to be deluged with opportunity? You know, for instance, if they felt that 100 different people knew that they wanted science fiction, they don’t want to see 100 emails of “Hey, buy my science fiction,” and yet, I think from, like, our perspective, if we found or we knew of something, and I’ll use Lit RPG to get Dakota, excited, if we found that there was a Russian lit RPG, you know that they wanted somebody in America to do it. Well, then Dakota and myself might both be sitting there going, why didn’t you contact me first?
John Malinowski: Yeah, I’m not quite sure how to answer that, but I’m not quite sure how to answer that at all to be honest with you, because PubMatch is not really set up that way. The buyers who go on who are strictly buyers cannot be contacted through PubMatch, they can only be contacted if they contact a member on PubMatch. Those that are listed as buyers and sellers can set their privacy settings to the point where they only, they don’t want to see anybody that’s a service provider or an author that they can’t see their information. They can just shut that part off from buyers so they can control that aspect to a certain extent. But it’s difficult.
Orna Ross: I think it is fair to say that most rights buyers are in, you know, don’t have a shortage of material. They get a lot of stuff sent their way. But they’re always looking for the next big thing, the next big opportunity. So it’s kind of that balance.
Michael Anderle: How did they find it? In other words, let’s say that somebody is looking for, let’s say, a vampire that goes into space, just to create something.
Orna Ross: These plots you come up with are hilarious.
Michael Anderle: Where would a company that is looking to sell those rights, wWhere would they place ads? For example, would they be interested in placing ads with Publishers Weekly? Would they be interested in placing ads on Clark’s World? Would they be, you know, just where might they put ads so that these individuals who have actually like to acquire the rights might happen to see it?
Orna Ross: Yeah, and I’m not sure that ads is how it works. It’s pitching the buyer that you think would be, I’ll let Ethan pick up on this because he’d probably be better than me on it but there is a sort of a tried and tested pitching process. So it’s about finding, you know, the seller needs to find the right buyer and then pitch. So you know, as you as Judith has been doing, to come back to talk about that. And but Ethan, do you want to pick up on what I said?
Ethan Ellenberg: There is a publishing ecosystem that’s international, and authors, sorry, foreign publishers use coagents who provide intelligence. Foreign publishers use scouts that provide intelligence. Foreign publishers do read Publishers Weekly, and then the science fiction field Locus magazine, and IO Nine and there is somewhat of a net of information gathering where they look for hot titles to all these avenues. I’d say it’s getting a little bit more flat and democratized every day because the web contains tons of information and people are looking for the next big thing.
There is a little bit of a permanent Gold Rush mentality built into the publishing business. Of course, there’s an absolute fundamental contradiction in the whole process, which is that on the other hand, they’re trying to keep stuff out. I mean, they don’t want to be inundated. And there are some metrics that govern our business to some degree. Even a publisher that does a lot of science fiction, like a Heine in Germany or *inaudible* In Japan, they have a fixed number of slots on their list. You know, they’re not going to publish 100 books in a year, they’re going to publish 40 or 50 books in a year at most. So there’s some flexibility, but there’s also a limit to what they can actually look at, consider, purchase and publish. So all these things are happening at the same moment.
The most encouraging thing is I set with my Italian cogent at the last Frankfurt that told me that now Italy is finally getting some ebook only science fiction startups, really unheard of even two years ago, but this is again, you know, the fan becomes the publisher. And there are other territories like Scandinavia and Holland, where we can’t even find a partner. There is no science fiction publishing in these countries.
So, you know, this is it’s a landscape of opportunity, and also various kinds of roadblocks. And that’s what exists out there. And I think the really frustrating thing is that, on the one hand, there is some buying and some excitement about individual titles that will get your envy going when you read about money being spent, and your own experience, which is “Don’t bug me and I never want to see you again.” So those are the extremes running through our business, and that’s what we got to live with.
Orna Ross: Okay, Dakota. Another question on that list.
Dakota Krout : See, one last big question. This is for people trying to get into Chinese markets or that are currently in them. While it might be considered somewhat low-tier according to the conversation earlier here, you know, it is a massive, massive country with a huge amount of people that read books and you know if we can, if people are getting in on that, but for PubMatch specifically, I was wondering, would we want to sell the simplified or traditional Chinese rights more?
John Malinowski: Simplified for Mainland China. Traditional for Taiwan.
Orna Ross: Okay, thank you, lovely clear short answer, hey, not something you have too often in the rights arena. Okay, Judith and I know you Ethan and John were in Frankfurt as well but you want to give us a little kind of Frankfurt report, you kind of introduced there in the beginning but it was a worthwhile experience?
Judith Anderle: Yeah, so if my colleagues don’t mind, I’ll kick it off, it definitely was, you know, this is our third year at Frankfurt. And we went from going in to just learn till now where we’re able to set up these meetings and and take the time, right, to interact with a lot of industry individuals, and I think to Ethan’s point, and somewhat to John’s, there is a system that’s developed and now that we kind of taken off our glasses and going, “Oh my gosh, this is huge.” You start narrowing it down, you go, “Oh, there’s a method to the madness.” Right.
And it has a lot to do with establishing these relationships, which is probably why Ethan has been in the business so long, and I’m sure his roster, you know, is targeted. And then John is, of course familiar with, you know, setting up PubMatch and setting up the trade show booths, the fact that once you get to know these individuals, you sort of keep on coming back to them. And they help you, right, understand. One of the things that we learned was, and I bring up this right agency, it’s called Drop Camp. And it was new to us to a US agency that I approached, they said, “Are you interested in buying rights?” And I said, “Well, you know, we’ll look at what you have, and we’ll show you what we have.”
And long story short I guess an agent that’s been in the business for 20 years, coupled with these individuals who are IT savvy and have put up this platform where you can buy and sell rights. And they appear to be actively promoting, I think, to someone else’s question. So it’s another avenue and opportunity. In the end, we did come out with a deal. And it’s a shopping deal for a TV show that’s going to come up, we were able to negotiate an up front exclusive for six months.
Because you know, we wanted more for a year. So we were able to negotiate it for six months and it’s an exclusive for this company and we were also able to come up with a potential deal that’s going to come up with these individuals coming up with the Drops agency. So there was, we became aware of opportunities, Mike, you might want to talk about Thailand, where I dragged them to this meeting. All our stories begin with-
Orna Ross: I dragged him here. I dragged him there
Judith Anderle: “Oh this is brilliant. Oh this is great.” But just to see that there’s opportunity and other languages from both sides, you know, so I guess in the end the message is networking, networking, networking, seeking the opportunity whenever you can, introducing yourself and then out of that can come deals.
Michael Anderle: Yeah, it was actually pretty interesting because Judith asked me to go to Thailand and discuss this and once again, this isn’t my aspect. My job is English, right? And so I went and I was like, “Okay, I’m not expecting much.” So in going there. The gentleman was, he spoke.
Judith Anderle: To clarify, the Thailand booth.
Michael Anderle: Yes, the Thailand booth. And we had met with an individual though. Yeah, okay. I see what I said. So in going there, he had a few books that he thought would be relevant. We discussed back and forth what we knew about and so in pulling out some of the books, what happened was, for example, there was one book that had to do with the superhero character that was set toward World War Two. And it was done in a comic book form.
Well, we don’t do comics, and I’ve looked at him, and I’m like, “That’s not something we necessarily want to get into.” Just because of the sheer financial aspect of it. But you can take a comic book and if the beats are good, you can move it into a book relatively quickly. Because that’s pretty straightforward. And we had another book that was financial. But I know that here in America, oftentimes, you know, we had the financial for dummies type books that were relevant. Well, now they’ve gotten into something that’s not quite, it’s not quite comic, and it’s not quite, so it’s almost a manga.
But I am aware that for financials sells pretty well. It’s actually been done for political as well. And so in looking at that, I realized, “Wait a minute, here’s some opportunities where we could move it from the form it exists in the language that exists and move it to, perhaps, just straight prose or we can move it to something that’s got more art in it.” And there were just things that I hadn’t considered if I hadn’t sat down and been a part of that conversation wouldn’t have thought it was possible.
Judith Anderle: And by the way, this particular book is in English and it’s by an American who happens to live in Thailand. So yeah.
Orna Ross: Okay. Nice, again. Yeah. Alright, so yeah, everybody’s questions answered to satisfaction? All sorted? Okay. So can we from each author then just get a kind of a report as to where you feel you are right now. and what your next step is going to be?
Joe Cawley: Yeah, I’ve started compiling an initial list based on the Frankfurt Book Fair’s list of exhibitors. It was kind of tricky to make sure, I’m obviously looking for publishers that have published, for myself, memoirs, travel guides, travel books, travel writing. A lot of the publishers on their list themselves as they put out nonfiction without getting more specific. So obviously from that list, I’ve then got to dig in more and find out what kind of books that they’re actually putting out. And I think I got an initial list of 34 just from the Frankfurt exhibitors. But I do want to find other ways of doing it as well. I look at Amazon.es Amazon.de, didn’t have a lot of luck there. So I’ll be interested to find out more ways of adding to this initial list.
Orna Ross: Okay, that might be something we focus on next time and get kind of our best tips for that together. In addition to the book fair catalogs, which we mentioned the last time and there are some other ways to source hits. Did you say you had a particular question about PubMatch in relation to nonfiction at the beginning? Did somebody say that?
Joe Cawley: No, it wasn’t so much about PubMatch. It was more to do with the actual list I’m compiling.
Orna Ross: Oh, yeah. So how do you get beyond that umbrella category of nonfiction to to kind of what’s behind it.
Joe Cawley: To delve into it, yeah.
Ethan Ellenberg: I’d like to make a suggestion right now that might help you out.
Orna Ross: Yes, please.
Ethan Ellenberg: Focus on title, focus on author and then go to their, find their publisher. If you really want to get specific and granular you have to go beyond category. Travel can mean almost anything, literally. So if you match up with a book, you know, that my travels in Egypt and you’ve written about my exploring the pyramids, you find who the publisher of that book is, and even the author and write to the author, maybe, but you find that publisher, and you see that that publisher, in fact, is really interested about travel books by Europeans in Egypt.
Then that’s a much closer match than “I found a travel publisher,” which could be anything from general guides to Memoirs of 18th century explorers, you know, and so I really recommend that I recommend also finding authors that match up with you, and then doing, play internet detective, and find out their publishers in other countries. You know, one of the great boons of Amazon has been that there is a tremendous amount of information available in the Amazon country shopping stores, and you will see literally millions of books, obviously, but you can do your research on those platforms.
And with Google Translate, you can actually get information in your home language. So I recommend that because the problem with catalogs is you’ll read 10 and 15 and 20 areas of interest, children’s, you know, exercise, you know, and that doesn’t always tell you very much. So I think you want to get down to the title and author level and try to get a match at that level.
Orna Ross: And indies, of course, are very used to compiling lists of comparable authors. So I guess it’s just the next step where we might not normally look at the publisher.
Barry Hutchison: That’s exactly what I did. Actually, I’m quite a fortunate position the Scottish crime fiction is quick and a nice thing there are maybe can really well established Scottish crime authors. So I did that, went on Amazon, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. And I looked for all those authors and I found out the foreign language edition of those books, and checked who published them and then went to the website and kind of harvested some informational contact details off there in a spreadsheet and I came up with 40 or 50.
What was interesting was that a lot of the time, one publisher would publish four or five of those Scottish crime authors. So they’ve obviously got a really keen interest in that genre. So they’re gonna be my main focus for London is trying to get meetings with them and speak to them.
Orna Ross: Fantastic.
Ethan Ellenberg: One interesting thing is publishers often follow on stuff that works. So you know, don’t look at a publisher and say “Oh, he’s already done a Scottish crime, right? He doesn’t want any more.”
Barry Hutchison: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s a few of them just seem to be collecting the Scottish crime writers. So those are the guys that I’m really going to focus on.
Michael Anderle: So someone’s gonna collect you, Barry, put you on a shelf.
Barry Hutchison: I want to be sat on the shelf. Make lots of money.
Orna Ross: In good company. Great. Okay, and thank you, Joe. Yeah, so your month, then Barry has been-
Barry Hutchison: Mostly holiday, which was nice, but prior to that it was doing that Amazon gathering that, quite a lot of information I’ve gone for. I’ve even dug around to try to find some names of people working in the publishers to see if there’s anyone that I have any previous contact with through my traditional publishing days, sadly, none of them were.
But I’ve also gone back through some of my traditional publishing rights deals I’ve had in the past. And I’ve kind of gathered those names as well see if they are going to be of any use to me so So really this month has just being about that kind of initial data dump and gathering that information. And kind of now is laid out now in a format that is quite easy to do cross reference and check things.
So going forward will be how to best use the information but I think I’ve got the information in place now. I’ve set up, as I said, the first book on PubMatch. I’ve listed a few different rights deals for that. So I feel I’ve got I’ve got a good handle on PubMatch now. So it’s really going to be kind of bringing those two things together.
Orna Ross: Okay, fantastic. Dakota.
Dakota Krout: Alright, so yeah, I mean, hard to follow that act, man. I don’t have such a lovely accent. So for us, mostly what we’ve been doing is, you know, watching the videos, reading through the attached videos or attached books and such that were going on, setting up the PubMatch stuff, and we did just, we uploaded just the one book, because we wanted to do all variations of it that we thought would be, you know, useful.
And part of that was going through and you know, like we made, say, book one in this series in German, and then we did all the data there, and then to put it into French or Japanese or something else. It’s all, you know, had to start over from the start, you know, you can’t just add on that option. And so we were wanting to wait until we had more clear instruction on, for instance, term and percentage or flat rates before we jumped in, and did you know our 40 books that we have, you know, ready to go if we need to.
Because if you’re doing all those variations, anyway, so basically, beyond that it’s narrowing the list of the publishers that we do want to reach out to. So obviously, there’s a huge amounts of publishers on PubMatch. And there’s even more that probably aren’t on PubMatch.
But you know, just going through that list on PubMatch, and trying to find people that we see and we would want to work with, just at a glance, can be a little bit of a daunting task when we’re already, you know, working, you know, every day, all day so it’s it’s a process on our end.
Orna Ross: But you have the information you need to take the next steps.
Dakota Krout: Absolutely, yeah. Especially with my questions answered here. You know, that is what I needed to get to the next steps?
Orna Ross: Fantastic.
Barry Hutchison: I’ve got a really quick question just based on that, for John. So if we’re putting a series on PubMatch, should we list the entire series? Or should we list that first book and say, these are the books that are also available in the series?
Because ultimately, I suppose, if someone’s doing a rights deal, they’ll either be doing a rights deal for a certain number of books in that series. They won’t be picking out Book Three for example, and doing a deal on that. So does it make sense to list them all or just to list the first and then kind of in the notes mention these are books that are available.
John Malinowski: The series issue, is a real issue on pub match because everything is based on ISBN number in terms of how they the data is collected, and policed, and all of that good stuff. We tried to do this with Wiley with their series, and it was, it just became so complicated to offer it as a series, we’re still talking about it to try to figure out how we’re going to do that so that you can offer him individually and as a series, but you really can’t do that right now on PubMatch as a series.
Barry Hutchison: So how would you suggest listing books are in a series at the moment?
John Malinowski: You can certainly list all of the books in a series on an individual title basis. You’ve got unlimited amount of space in terms of description in the fields, you can create new fields on the fly. So you can create a field and say, additional titles in the series include.
Barry Hutchison: That makes sense. Yeah.
Orna Ross: Okay. So any final words on Frankfurt Book Fair or anything else before we wrap up this session?
Michael Anderle: I think everyone’s going to be seeing these videos as we go to London. And we have something coming back there. From the indie perspective and I know you mentioned that earlier that Hallway Three in Frankfurt definitely had more Indies. We did know this in advance. So, but London is an excellent first fair, it’s large, but it’s not Frankfurt large. It’s very indie friendly, where you can go, what I refer to as you go up there and you breathe in the indie and then you forge out into the traditional world. And then you get perhaps a little reality effect. In fact, if you go back and go, “Okay, what did I just encounter when I just did that?”
Orna Ross: Yeah. And you can get hugs.
Michael Anderle: What you need to do is just find Ethan. We’ll have him walking around, tag with him.
Orna Ross: He’d be sitting at a table probably with people.
Michael Anderle: Just wear a t-shirt with Ethan’s head on it. “I’m looking for him.”
Orna Ross: Appointments every half hour, it’s punishing stuff at that rights center.
Michael Anderle: It is. You bring up a really good point and then I’ll shut up after this. But you bring a really good point, which is expect a lot of work, even an hour or two is hard work at a conference fair.
Orna Ross: It definitely is. And as we get into the sessions in January and February, we’ll talk a lot more about the actual prep to do for the fair itself, the practicalities of what needs to happen, but, and my final question would be how far out from London should people be seeking to make appointments to meet prospective buyers? Any thoughts on that Ethan?
Ethan Ellenberg: It usually starts, you know, mid, the end of November, prior to Christmas, they’re still getting emails, so and so’s scheduling appointments, you know, would you like to do it? You can also slot yourself on the sheet and I think the four or five month window for sure. Very, very, very busy people book up and you won’t be able to see them. So I think early is better. If you’re ignored month one, month two, you’ll have a better shot. So I think early is good. That’d be my recommendation.
Orna Ross: That’s fantastic. So start getting ready right now, really, to start making your reach out shortly.
Joe Cawley: Did we say last time when the list of exhibitors becomes available for London Book Fair?
Orna Ross: I don’t know the date, but I will find that out for next time. And it’ll be pretty soon, I think. I mean, it’s all finalized and the print edition isn’t available until quite late but they have the online, I mean, a lot of the same people go year after year.
Joe Cawley: Okay.
Ethan Ellenberg: So, to make a recommendation. If you can’t get a formal appointment don’t take that too poorly. One strategy, which, it’s not a wonderful strategy, but it’s a useful strategy is tell them you’re coming to their booth, you’re going to introduce yourself and you hope to leave something or you know, just an introduction card or they don’t want to be handed a manuscript. That’s the way to make enemies, not friends.
But if you tell a prospective buyer, you’re going to stop by, you’ll leave your card or just want to say hello, and you know, shake their hand and talk to them for exactly 60 seconds, and tell them that you hit the USA Today latest or you had a great review in Locus or you might be able to, you know, trigger a little bit of reaction, have a business card they can slip into their pockets so when they go back to the hotel, or a week or two later, when they’re looking through their London experience, “Hey, you know what, that guy wasn’t such a bad guy. And that woman seemed to have something on the ball,” and you might be able to make a connection.
And happenstance is very much part of the psychology the Fairs, people understand that you might bump into somebody on the cookie line that has something that she wants So, but don’t come with your thousand page manuscript. I advise against that.
Orna Ross: Breaks backs. And just on that issue of boots versus Rights Center. So, you know, I think it’s true that if you’re dropping by the booth, you may not, you know, the people who are on the booth may just be people who are hired to kind of mind for a few days or you might be lucky and meet somebody. But in terms of where the real action is done, would you say that’s in the right center, and that’s the one to target?
Ethan Ellenberg: Well, appointments are the best thing. If you can get an appointment with a publisher, even for five minutes at their table at their booth, that’s ideal, but if you’re going to be doing, that can’t happen or doesn’t happen, and you’re going to take a slightly more aggressive, “I’ll stop in on them and try to make myself attractive” strategy which I do recommend. I’m not telling you not to do it, but try to do it by happenstance, try to get the name of someone who might be there, especially an editor or director.
If they will say, you can get the time that they will be there. In certain spots, you know, “You can’t have an appointment but I will be there Wednesday, two to five. Feel free to stop by.” Take that as an invitation and show up, especially if you name that know the person’s name. Then try and come back. If all you’re meeting is a booth minder, and you say, “Hey, is the editor chief Patrick, so and so coming back?” And they say “Yes, Thursday at 11”. Then come back. I mean, put yourself out. That’s really what you have to do.
Orna Ross: Okay, on that very good note, I think we’ll end this session, unless anybody has anything else to add? No, we’re all good. Okay.
Ethan Ellenberg: Thank you, Orna, I appreciate the invitation.
Orna Ross: Thank you all for coming along. And yeah, hope you’re clear on your next steps and so we will be meeting, Sacha, can you just remind us the date and time.
Sacha Black: It is November the 27th at 730. It’s then GMT.
Orna Ross: Yeah. And you guys should have had your daylight saving moments by then. So we should be back on where we were before with five hour difference between us and East Coast.
Ethan Ellenberg: Yeah. Thank you very much. See you all later.
Michael Anderle: Thank you.
Orna Ross: Alright then, thank you all and good luck.
Joe Cawley: Thank you.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like these from the ALLi archive: