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Looking for Additional Book Revenue? Consider Going International

international book publishing

Do you sell books outside the U.S.? It can be surprising to learn how many publishers fail to take advantage of this potentially lucrative market — or how little they know about the opportunities it offers. Here’s what you need to know to decide whether international publishing is a good fit for you and what to keep in mind should you choose to pursue its opportunities.

International publishing and its benefits

There are two ways to sell books in foreign countries:

  • You can publish traditionally and then contract with an international translator — or sell only in English — for printing and distribution directly to a targeted international market.
  • You can sell the rights to translate, print, and distribute to a foreign publisher.

Typically, your choice will depend on whether the price you negotiate for international publishing rights is greater than your potential profits from translating, printing, transporting, and selling copies overseas. International publishing can be a great opportunity for publishers to boost their publishing success. It allows them to introduce their books and authors to new audiences and it extends books’ reaches while enhancing their brands. Plus, authors in general appreciate the opportunity to reach more readers and increase their chances of success. And, selling internationally can boost both publishers’ and authors’ revenues, creating a win-win. However, international publishing also has its challenges.


Publishers interested in such global sales need to find the right international partners. Book fairs and conventions are excellent places to buy and sell publishing rights, including international rights. It’s generally a good idea for publishers to align with international partners who are familiar with their content and audiences, and it takes due diligence to find trustworthy partners. As with any international business partnership, language and business culture differences can present problems. It’s a good idea to work with professional translators and business consultants, and it’s important that all parties fully understand agreement terms as well as who is responsible for translation, printing, marketing, and distribution. Legal issues such as censorship and copyright can also be more difficult to decipher and adhere to when dealing internationally, which is another good reason to work with a reliable international partner.

Successful international publishing

Before you sell your international publishing rights, determine whether selling internationally makes more economic sense than selling books directly to a counterpart in a foreign market. If you’re interested in selling international rights, let foreign publishers know. Create a website and marketing materials that list the books whose international rights are for sale. Take marketing materials to book fairs to introduce your publications to foreign publishers. If you’ve decided to take the leap into international publishing, have a professional translator and legal consultant review your rights contract. When working with authors, advise them on how to make their works appealing to those in international markets. If you will be selling your books in foreign countries, you’ll need to find distributors and outlets in those locations, and you’ll also need to determine appropriate pricing. Various reference guides offer price comparisons in other countries. Keep in mind you will also be responsible for discoverability: How will you market and promote in other countries? There’s a lot to consider when you bring your books to international markets, but if you understand how best to approach the new opportunities global bookselling offers, it can be a great way to boost your bottom line, spread word of your brand, and increase your authors’ success.

Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation to discuss how Sheridan can streamline your publishing processes.

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