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Today we are going to talk about something very interesting because we will be talking about book translation rights and everything you need to know about them.

We will understand this nuanced concept of translation licencing when it comes to publishing rights.  And we will ultimately understand what it means to translate your books so that they can reach a global audience.

This blog is going to be very important for you if you are in the publishing industry and even more important if you are an author who plans on understanding more about author rights.

So, make some coffee and grab is seat because we are going to go on this amazing journey of understanding international publishing rights and publishing contracts when it comes to book translation.

In order to have more clarity on translation permissions and licensing deals we need to understand how global rights or foreign rights work.

Global Or Foreign Rights Simplified

Before we get into the concept of translation rights, we will need to understand the concept of foreign rights which is the presenting and acquisition of rights for books to be published in a different country.

In order to understand this, you must understand that there is a primary rights holder which can be the author of the publishing company or both in some capacity.

Now you will have to think of rights as currency because the author or the publishing house holds it in the first place which they can then transfer and others can make that rights acquisition and sell translated books in a new marker.

That is why let us break down the rights holders into different categories for simple understanding.

Rights Holder A

This is the primary rights holder which can be the author or the publisher or even both of them. They hold the rights to the publication of the book.

And it does not matter whether the book is being published in a domestic market or globally. That is why they hold the copyright licencing. Which means they also have the right to give away the publishing rights.

This giving away of publishing rights can be as a part of a rights agreement deal perpetually or for a limited time.

This means the rights holder A can give away the rights of publication to some other publisher in a different country for a limited time or perpetually.

Rights Holder B

Now that we know the primary rights holder, we also know that they can transfer these rights for publication to a different publisher in a different country.

But we must understand why they need to do this because they can simply publish that book and sell copies of that book in that country.

The transfer of rights is done when there is a need for translation. For example, a Hindi book publisher in India will not directly sell their Hindi book in Germany.

That is why they have to work with a German publisher to translate that book into German. But you might say that the Hindi book publisher can simply bring out a German translation and sell it in Germany.

But that is very difficult because a single publisher will never have the network and the market to publish a book in a foreign market and that is why they need to work with the foreign publisher.

This is usually done through translation agreements and the transfer of rights. These transfers of rights are in a limited capacity.

This means if you take the example of the Hindi book publisher, they can sell German rights to German Publishers with agreements that the German publisher will publish that book only in Germany.

The Hindi book publisher can then sell French translation rights to a French publisher so that it can be published in France.

We can even see cases where Rights Holder B might sell their publishing rights to someone else but there should be provision for the transfer in the initial agreement between Rights Holder A and B.

This might seem very complicated because it is actually complicated and there are a lot of contracts and agreements and a lot of lawyers involved in the process when it comes to global publishing rights.

That is why there are special professionals whose job is to make sure these publishing rights are transferred correctly and they just do one simple thing which is managing foreign rights. We call them foreign rights agents.

However, before we talk about foreign rights agents and other important ideas like translation royalties and licensing, we need to understand the various kinds of foreign rights.

Here Are the Various Kinds of Foreign Rights

Geographical Rights

One of the most common and one of the most popular types of global rights can be in the form of geographical rights or territorial rights.

This is because they are easy to manage and they are very simple to understand even for a person who is not in the publishing industry.

Geographical rights are when those rights are classified and limited to a few countries or a single country.

For example, if you are a publisher and you want to publish your book in France then you can sell territorial rights to a French publishing company which will be a limited right only allowing them to sell in France.

Translation Rights

Then there is the famous translation right which is also a limited right and does not allow for unlimited sharing and selling of the book.

This means you can give rights to a particular publisher to sell the translation of a book. Sometimes the translation rights, which are sometimes called language rights, can be combined with territorial rights.

This means you are going to get a hybrid system where, for example, if you want to sell your book in France in the French language then you can sell territorial and language rights to a French publisher.

This will give exclusive rights to the French publisher to publish your book in France but they can only do that in French language after it has been translated.

This means that if the publisher decides to publish that book in France in any other language other than French then it is going to be a violation of that right.

Similarly, there are different types of global rights and they are often combined with translation rights such as audio rights which might be the case when you need to combine audio rights with translation rights as well as geographical rights.

By now you probably understand that this can be a very complex issue and especially because book copyrights and rights are quite different depending on the country.

It is impossible to do all the paperwork and all the legalities without having a deep understanding of that country’s market and laws.

That is where we come to the concept of foreign rights agents, let us understand who they are and what they do.

Foreign Agents and The Role They Play

When we talk about foreign agents, they can be individual people or they can even be a company that specializes in translation rights and international rights.

The simplest way to explain what they do is to say that they make sure you do not have to do anything when it comes to translation rights because they will take care of everything for you.

This means when you have issues with translation rights you can approach these professionals and they will help you negotiate the best deals with the most appropriate publishers for your kind of book.

They have extensive experience in handling translation rights and they also have a very good network of publishers and editors from different countries.

Now you might think that things might be a little bit cheaper for you if you do it yourself and try to find the publisher but that is actually not the case.

This is because you are going to spend a considerable amount of time and money trying to find the best publisher because you will have to do market research for that international market yourself.

Then again you might not find the best-suited candidate for your book and the deal might not be very favourable to you.

But if you take the help of a foreign agent then they can ensure you get the best deal because it is their reputation on the line and that is exactly what they do.

They are agents that take care of all the legal documents and agreements but they are also consultants which means they are going to give you very important advice.

They might charge for the contract which is usually the most common method of remuneration but they might also have other payment options.

Other Options to Explore – Amazon

We have been talking about the most traditional way of doing things because they are smooth and refined and you will not face any difficulty in them.

But if you are someone who is self-publishing and you do not want to go through this fiasco of tying up with a foreign publisher then you can explore other options.

One of the simplest things you can do is to hire a translator in your own country but that might not give you the best results. You can also get a native translator from freelancing websites.

It will be a lot cheaper for you than going through an entire book deal with a foreign publisher.  But the one thing you must keep in mind is quality control. Quality control will not be an issue if you have to deal with a foreign publisher.

The other thing you can do once you have the translated copy is to publish it differently under the translated name so that there is no confusion.

You can publish your book on Amazon and it is not very difficult to do and you can even get in touch with an Amazon executive so that they can help you explain how to publish your book for an international market.

It is much easier to do if your book is only available in eBook (Kindle) and audiobook (Audible) versions because then you do not have to ship copies of your book and it will be cheaper for you and the readers.

The best option would be Amazon because Amazon operates in nearly every country out there and it will also be easy for you to promote your translated book in that foreign market.

The best thing about this method is that there is no complex translation rights agreement and it will be just like publishing your book on Amazon in your own country.

The Royalty Structure for Translated Books

Things can seem a little bit complicated when we bring in royalties because with book rights you must also consider the factor of book royalties.

But it is simple to understand because there is no standardised way of doing this and it depends on the deal you have signed with the foreign publisher.

If you have not signed a deal with the foreign publisher and you have just hired a translator to do the translation then that translator might also be entitled to royalties.

It all depends on what they agree on but if you decide to hire a very established translator who understands the concept and has a good hold on the market then you might have to agree to a royalty deal.

But this way of doing things is changing rapidly in the industry as we are seeing translators being hired more as professionals than as co-authors.

This means that the translator is just hired for a single project which is translating a book and they are paid according to that project. This is how big publishing companies do it because it is a lot simpler and it is also very budget-friendly.

Now, whether this is ethical or the right thing to do is up to you and we leave that to your discretion.

So, Should You Get Your Book Translated and Sell Those Rights?

In order to understand this, you must have a deep understanding of how markets work because if you randomly decide to get your book translated and published in international markets then that might not be the best thing.

It is only when you understand that there is a demand for your book internationally you should invest in finding a foreign publisher and getting your book translated and selling those rights.

For example, there are excellent case studies for books like Harry Potter and how translation rights work and if you read them, you will get an understanding of how international translation rights truly work.

It all depends on understanding demand and generating supply. For this, you need to have an understanding of the market but most importantly you need to have a good connection with your international fans.

You must conduct surveys on your social media profiles in order to understand if there is a demand for your book internationally and whether you should translate it.

This is because it is not worth it to publish your book internationally if there is no demand for it.  There are other cultural factors as well.

You might not know that your book might be popular in a certain country but for that, you need to have immaculate prediction and also understand cultural nuances.

For example, if you have published a book about Christianity in the US and it deals with different Christian communities of different ethnicities then you might want to explore those markets.

For example, if the book has an individual chapter about Christians in India, then you might want to do research about that market and try to translate your book for those Christian communities in their regional languages.

We hope this blog has been helpful for you to understand everything about translation rights and global book rights. Things might seem a little bit complicated because they actually are, especially if you are a new author.

That is why we are here to help you because we are Orange Publishers and we are the fastest-growing and most popular book publisher in India.

One of the perks of publishing with us is that we take care of everything whether is copyright or whether it is international translation rights.

We do everything in-house right from the printing to the publishing as well as the planning of the marketing strategy and much more.

We would love to publish your masterpiece and we welcome you to check out everything we do.