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of Your Book
significant proportion of the guidebooks
you see in any bookstore is work in translation,
that is, the books were first written in
a language other than English.
guidebook publishing, translation is
The guidebook business is an international
business. If you write a good guide to Upper
Slobovia, why should it only help English-speaking
travelers? You can sell the translation rights
to publishers in other countries, they will translate
and publish the book at their own expense, and
you get more money for no more work. This is
Usually the sale of foreign language rights
is left to the publisher, as he or she is
the one who goes to the big Frankfurt (Germany)
Book Fair, meets lots of foreign publishers,
and knows how to cut the best deal.
The important thing for you as an author to get
is the lion's share of the license fee or
royalties. You've done all the work, right?
Sometimes all the publisher does is negotiate
the foreign rights contract and hand over a
copy of the book. In other cases, your publisher
may provide important and costly technical materials
and support services (maps, photographs, color
separations, cartography services, etc) to the
foreign publisher, which would justify the publisher
to a bigger slice of the pie.
An 80-20 split of all money received
is not unreasonable, with the author getting
the 80%. Publishers who recognize reality will
agree to 80-20 or at least 70-30 in cases where
the publisher does not provide significant technical
support to the foreign publisher.
But most will want 50-50 or even 30-70, which
is unacceptable. In the case of the domestic
English edition, the publisher has many duties,
responsibilities and expenses. In the case of
foreign rights, he or she has few.
You should recognize that if you pressure a
publisher for an unreasonable split, the publisher
will have no incentive to work at selling foreign
rights, and if that's the case, you lose that
extra money which might have been gained through
sale of the translation rights. But 30% should
be enough for the publisher in most cases.
publishers demanding "all rights" ("work-for-hire")
contracts these days, they keep all translation
rights—and revenue. The author gets nothing.
About Travel Guidebooks