Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

What To Do If Your Books Are Popular In Iran?

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5 hours straight of phone calls. Breezed through 150 emails in 1.5 hours. Back at it tomorrow.

Listening To:


The short answer is nothing. There actually isn’t much you can do.

Rarely discussed in publishing is the fact that certain countries don’t recognize or honor copyright law. Persian countries (including Iran and Iraq) are an excellent example of territories that don’t. Persian publishers will often translate popular novels and publish them in their countries without a license, and the author does not receive a dime as an advance or royalties.

Kind of shocking, isn’t it?

This situation has happened a number of times for my authors. We usually find out about unlicensed editions when an author receives fan mail or a lovely note from the translator. Even though the Persian publishers don’t feel much obligation to the author, we have found over the years that the translators actually do. And often they will reach out to the author and ask permission to do the translation—even though they know (and are quite apologetic) that the publisher has no plans to compensate the author in any way.

I have a special place in my heart for these morally centered translators.

So what can an author do when it becomes apparent that his or her books are being translated and published in countries that don’t honor copyright protection?

My answer is this. The author should offer to write a special foreword for the edition in exchange for a nominal fee. It’s my attempt to get the author at least some compensation. Yet so far no Iranian publisher has taken me up on this offer.

But I’m hopeful. Someday…

Photo Credit: Peta de Aztlan

5 Responses

  1. Dara said:

    Sadly, this is true.

    One quick correction: Iran is the only “Persian country,” technically. Iraq is an Arab country with a different language and culture.


  2. Lucy said:

    This probably sounds ironic from someone as down on fanfic and gritty about copyright as I am, but in this case, I would just celebrate the fans and that someone is loving it. Especially in Iran, we know people have life hard enough, with–especially for women–not nearly enough choices. I don’t appreciate the publisher ripping it off, but if it makes someone’s day a little brighter, hey, hope you enjoy the read. Don’t forget to send me a copy of my cover. 🙂

  3. S.E. White said:

    I had no idea this kind of situation existed, bit now that I do know I’m impressed with the translators. Who knows what they’re risking to let the author know about it? 🙁

  4. S.E. White said:

    I had no idea this kind of situation existed, but now that I do know I’m impressed with the translators. Who knows what they’re risking to let the author know about it? 🙁

  5. Kimia said:

    Well…..I’m an iranian teenager and also a book nerd but I don’t appreciate the fact that iranian publishers don’t follow the laws of Copyright.
    I even wrote a letter for Ghadyani publishing house days ago but they haven’t answered yet.
    I feel REALLY guilty when I buy a book that doesn’t honor the Copyright law but i can’t help it. Only thing I can do is to buy the one that followed the law when i see two publishers have translated it. and just one thing : I know a publisher that doesn’t publish an foreign book till the author accepts. It’s ‘Behdad publication’. Seriously they’re awesome. (Sorry for my bad english but as i said English isn’t my vernacular.)

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