Friday, May 31, 2013

Foreign Rights Now Chechnya Is in the News

As many of you who subscribe to my SharingwithWriters newsletter know, I honor the wisdom of Ann Landers with a regular column called "Q&A a la Ann Landers" where by subscribers ask and I answer or find an answer.  Last issue featured this question from a longtime subscriber. I thought visitors to this blog would be especially interested in his question because Chechnya is so in the news these days and because he has had so many spectacular successes using my The Frugal Book Promoter as his guide for marketing and the resources in it for his many awards. So, please meet Robert W. Schaefer.


So, using the metrics for success I found in The Frugal Book Promoter (, by May I had exceeded the "inches" guideline for promotion that you recommend.

The identification of the Boston Bombers as ethnic Chechens resulted in a solid week of national media interviews (radio and print)--and perhaps some of my best work to date--getting asked by CNN to contribute a piece for Fareed Zakaria.

Also, because of my marketing success (based on your methods), I've also been asked by the Executive Producer of NBC's 2014 Olympic Coverage to be their consultant.

I'd been beating up my publisher for a while to get the book published in a few other languages. And although he personally believed it was a good idea, he was unsuccessful in convincing the corporate headquarters that it could make money.

However, I was able to use my recent media flurry to convince them that the book MUST be published in a some different languages before the Sochi Olympics and that, if they weren't going to do it, then they need to sell the foreign rights back to me so I could do it myself. He was able to convince corporate to do that - and so I'm able to buy my foreign rights back for just a few hundred dollars.

So now, I can either self-publish in a few languages (and pay for interpretation myself) or I can try to get a foreign publisher (which I'll be able to broker my own deal with instead of taking whatever my original publisher left for me) and let them do the work.

I'm in the research phase now and thought I should start with you first. After all, if I had started with you when I was writing the book, it would have saved me a lot of time, effort and frustration.


Oops.  Robert!  There is no easy way to do this!

And because I'm steaming toward Korea and will be there in about 20 minutes, I'm going to give you a short answer now.

There are excellent foreign rights venues in Europe--Frankfurt and London being two of the best. Here's the catch. There are people who will take your book to "display" and "sell" your rights for you. Don't believe it!

There is a section in The Frugal Book Promoter on displaying at bookstores and tradeshows. Use your index to try to find them. Their service is not exactly a scam but it's highly unlikely to produce any results UNLESS YOU GO ALONG WITH YOUR BOOK, STAND IN THE BOOTH, WORK THE SHOW AND SELL YOUR OWN DAMN BOOK. And yes, I am yelling. I get really tired of seeing authors throw their $400 to $600 down the drain.
If you can go, however, you might get results with these same services. But even then, you have to do your homework first. Check to see who publishes in Russia, Chechnya, etc. you already have a handle on your European markets so start there. Then arrange to meet prospects in Frankfurt, etc.  And work the floor, too!  Have your media kit and cards and copies of your media release/query with you.

Yes, having someone translate for you is expensive. And it's hard to tell if you'd make that much money back. Another problem my husband had with his What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z published in China (traditional publisher) and now in English. We had no idea about the accuracy of the translation--even after he had Chinese friends read it to see what they thought. It's highly unlikely that his friends would see the discrepancies he would. You know, things the Chinese publishers may have left out for political reasons, as an example. 

So, you have a bit of a row to hoe. But like everything, to be successful it's probably going to be up to you. Would that we could count on good luck to just come and sit in our laps. (-:

 Robert's book is very current as you can see from his successes above. Here is more information on it:
"A tour de force in breadth and depth"
- Kirkus Reviews(Starred Review)
"Enormously helpful" - The New York Times
"A remarkable book" - The Economist
Named to Kirkus Reviews "Best of 2011"
Named to the "Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism"

2011 USA Book News "Best Book Award" for Current Events
2012 Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal (History)
2012 Independent Publishers Bronze Medal (Foreign Affairs)

Read full reviews and get more information on

So you can see how a Chechnya tie-in has helped propel Schaefer's book to stardom. Are you watching the news to see how what's in the news can work for your book--whether it's nonfiction or fiction? (Yes! This technique can work for fiction, too. You may have to reread your own book for possible tie-ins, but it can be done!)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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