Build a Foreign Rights Revenue Stream Part II:
Getting a Good Deal

February 2005
by Bob Erdmann

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When a foreign publisher makes an offer to acquire rights to your book for its country, the game is on. Negotiating a deal that is good and fair for both sides, however, can be confusing if you’re inexperienced.

The best general advice is: Be realistic and know the norms.

Don’t swallow the latest gee-whiz story you heard at a seminar or in an Internet chat room. The first thing you must realize is that value will vary from book to book, and from country to country. If your author’s name isn’t John Grisham, don’t expect your book to be valued the same way his are. And don’t expect a developing third-world country to value it the same way an established world power would.

How do you know whether an offer from a foreign publisher who wants to translate and publish your book in its own country is fair and reasonable? The rule of thumb is simply this: Multiply the total number of copies contemplated for the first printing by the estimated retail price to get the gross revenue; then multiply that by the royalty percentage (somewhere between 5 and 10 percent) to get a figure for a typical advance.

For example:

First printing 5,000 copies

Retail price $10

Revenue from 1st printing (gross) $50,000

Royalty percentage 6%

Typical advance $3,000

For uncomplicated transactions, this formula will generally work. But you shou…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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