Pub Rants

Big In Russia Actually

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STATUS: Almost finished with all my Book Expo follow up stuff.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN IT’S OVER by Loverboy
(Bring on the red leather hot pants!)

I’m almost embarrassed to admit I have Loverboy on my iPod. Almost. They are still actually quite a lot of fun to work out to.

I’m not sure why but Russian publishers are buying a lot of projects as of late—and in all types of genres—but they are. Recently I’ve sold two debut fantasy and romance authors in that territory. They love historicals and I just sold a client’s recent book and her entire back list to a Russian publisher. They’ve also bought a young adult urban fantasy in that territory (but traditionally I haven’t sold a lot of YA there).

The hardest country to place right now is the UK. I recently did a deal for my middle grade project in that country but I think it was helped by the fact that the England is also the setting for the novel.

The UK has been notoriously tough for the past 2 years. If a manuscript doesn’t have international appeal (read: if it’s too American), they won’t touch it. They’ve become very tough for Historicals as well (which have traditionally worked well over there but the market has grown tighter in the last couple of years).

But here’s a first. Just recently I sold a YA project in Finland. Finnish! How fun and exciting is that? I also sold a YA in Turkey! Not two countries that immediately pop to mind when selling young adult titles but there you have it. I’ve also recently sold a new romance author in France as well as another young adult title there. Those are some firsts in the French language. Romance in general does tend to sell well in Denmark and Germany, but the latter has cut back as of late on its buys. Publishing has been hit hard in that country and I’ve noticed that offered advances are lower than they have been in the past.

I really love seeing the cover art and getting the foreign copies of books sold. If you go to our website, we actually post a lot of the foreign editions of our books. I must admit that Sara and I haven’t updated it recently but we’ll get around to it when we are a bit less swamped.

So from my limited perspective, that’s what is currently selling abroad as of late.

23 Responses

  1. k said:

    how many books sell foreign rights would you say? most? some? half? almost none? just curious…

  2. Brenda said:

    Wow. Interesting about the UK being so hard to break into. You are the first person I have heard define their take on ‘international appeal.’

  3. doortoriver said:

    Oh, that is so fascinating! I can believe it’s hard to sell YA internationally. My guess as to why is because many of the issues young people go through may be similar, but culturally they translate into completely different situations. If a story won’t speak to a teen in that language, naturally no one in that language will want to publish it.

  4. jeanoram said:

    That’s really cool!

    I love covers from other countries. Sometimes they are so goofy.

    From time to time Meg Cabot goes through her collection and shows off covers from other countries on her blog. For some of them, she doesn’t even know which book it is supposed to be! Isn’t that crazy?

    Congrats on the foreign book deals.

  5. Natalie Hatch said:

    Wow Kirstin, thanks for that insight. Is it tough getting contacts in foreign countries? I noticed that you have sold in a few countries that I would have thought had strict moral dampeners on a lot of printed media, are there changes that have to be made by your authors in order to sell?
    Okay I think that’s enough questions for now. Oh and one more, are WW2 romances selling at all around the place? yeah that’s cheeky of me, but hey nice try?

  6. disdainfulsoul said:

    That’s great news!

    I’ve liked looking at foreign covers ever since I was given the first six Harry Potter books in German. It’s interesting to see how some might change slightly, while some change a lot. Some of those Gallagher Girl books looked really neat.

  7. La Belle Americaine said:

    Hm…could the tough historical market in the UK be contributed to the glut of so-called “wallpaper” historicals? Or do UK readers want a perspective other than 19th century British-set historicals?

  8. Southern Writer said:

    Tons of people from India visit my website, where my hook and first chapter are posted. I think it’s their faith in reincarnation, karma, and the wish to believe that true love never dies that reels them in. But with all the trouble Richard Gere got into just for kissing an actress on the cheek in public there, it would probably be way too racy for them.

  9. Ryan Field said:

    This is a good post because it’s one of those areas we generall tend to overlook (at least I do). I was amazed that a book I was in last year, that didn’t do very well in the US, managed to pull out some good numbers in Italy. And good reviews, too.

  10. Dave F. said:

    On his website, Neil Gaiman is talking about replacing the American words “crib, diaper and flashlights” which seem so innocent with “cots and nappies and torches.” Adn that’s in his current novel – “The Graveyard Book”…

    Perhaps selling in Britain might be a translational problem.

  11. Caryn said:

    I have to tell you, the title of this post made me think of the band in the movie Singles, and the lead singer or guitarist or whatever telling everyone that they’re “really big in Belgium”.

    Seriously, though, that’s great. I’m off to look at the foreign covers. It’s so fun to compare them with the original version(s).

  12. Jon B. said:

    First off, I’ll see your Loverboy and raise you a Night Ranger. Or maybe Cinderella. No reason to be ashamed, that’s some grand culture you’re enjoying right there.

    I’m really interested to know more about your take on the Russian market. Are publishers there built along traditional western models or are you having to make many adjustments? What have you done to educate yourself about the players and the trends in that market?


    Jon Bard, Children’s Book Insider

  13. AR said:

    It must be difficult for American novelists to interest readers in England, where their tradition boasts such articulate and subtle use of the language they gave us.

    Let’s face it, bold hard statements are more in our line.

  14. Jessica said:

    Many of the British readers and writers of historical fiction that I know are quite unhappy with historicals (most often historical romances) set in the UK, but written by Americans who don’t seem to do a lot of basic research on things such as currency, titles, geography, etc. Obviously this doesn’t apply to all American authors, but it happens often enough that avid British readers of historical are quite sensitive to this misrepresentation of their land, culture and history. I don’t know how far this carries up the publishing ladder, but at least at a reader and writer level, this preference for historicals by British authors rather than American authors is very present.

    – An American living and writing in the UK who has encountered this bias

  15. Jessica said:

    Also, as ar said, there’s a certain subtleness in British historical fiction. They tend more towards the literary than anything else. Can’t quite put my finger on it and not sure yet if I’ve found it….

  16. Rose Green said:

    Interesting. My impression as an American living in Germany is that sales of American YA are up in Germany. Or maybe I just happen to know a lot of the authors who have sold books there. But more and more, I find books I recognize in the German market. It’s interesting what interests others. Some books I’d expect to find internationally just aren’t there, and others did okay in the US, but are rather popular here. Strange. Congrats on the sales!

  17. Ian Randall Wilson said:

    If you don’t mind revealing this information, I wonder, how are you auditing these foreign markets? Do you depend more on some kind of advance or upfront payment than royalties?

  18. karen wester newton said:

    I can see why it would be hard to sell an American book in the UK, and vice versa. I once read a Dorthy L. Sayers novel in which solving the murder meant you had to know how and when the conductor on a train punched the customers’ tickets. I knew what every word in the book meant, but I still couldn’t figure out the mystery.

  19. Fiona said:

    Very interesting, especially about the UK. I do tend to read more books by British authors, I wouldn’t say that’s intentional at all, maybe there’s just more of them in our bookshops! I don’t think I have ever read a YA by an american author either. I was actually thinking about this the other day and wondered why… Maybe it’s a subconscious preference of mine, maybe English authors are different to the American?

    Talking about historical romance, which I rarely read although have in the past, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is very good – even more interesting as it moves across to America as well of course. Also, not romance but Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley Mysteries – american author and very good. I forget she’s American.

  20. Christine Carey said:

    The covers are great! Off topic here – I really enjoyed Shanna Swendson’s series, but I would have thought they’d be listed under Scifi/Fantasy rather than women’s fiction.