ALC’s Rod Hare shares ten tips for children’s publishers to get the most out of their international rights business
1 Make sure your books or projects are international in nature from the start, and that they have unique components that would be difficult for other publishers to create themselves. One such is the author, but it might also be the illustrations, a novelty item or the format of the book.
2 Understand who the buyer is for your book in your local market. Is it children, parents, schools or libraries—or a combination of them? Your target market is likely to be the same in international territories, and identifying it will help to determine which publishers will be interested in acquiring your title.
3 Research your target publishers and editors. Work backwards to find overseas publishers and editors who have successfully published books that are similar to yours, and then target them.
4 Gather together plenty of information about your titles—the sales numbers of the author or illustrator, any awards they have won and information on which languages or markets they have been sold into. It all helps to build interest, and acquiring editors will need it to pitch your books at acquisition meetings or convince their sales teams that it will do well. Having a good sales track record or awards helps your books stand out from the crowd.
5 If you are looking at selling co-editions—ie printed copies of your illustrated book in translation—then be sure to work with a reliable printer that can offer good prices and quality. If you are printing novelty formats, make sure the printer understands the safety testing requirements of different markets, especially in the US and Europe. Make sure your digital files are layered so that the text is separate from the illustrations.
6 Marketing material in the form of AIs, synopses and reviews are essential. Low resolution PDF versions of your book, watermarked as ‘Draft: Not for re-sale’, will be needed at the second stage once you have interest in your book.
7 Ensure you have the international rights to the books you wish to license. This includes not only text and illustrations, but also applies to any photographs or maps in the books and the cover image and design.
8 Book fairs are a great place to showcase your publications, but they are expensive to attend. Make sure you have contacts with potential publishers and pre-booked appointments before the fair.
9 Follow up on all leads. Be persistent but not annoying. Many editors will tell you quite genuinely that they love your book, but will have no intention of acquiring it. Listen to all feedback you get and use it to work out how to present your book. Have a one-line pitch, a one-minute pitch and a full explanation of why the book exists and all its quality points ready to go.
10 Get your contracts right. Be aware of the sales channels, languages, territories, formats and terms that you are contracting. If you are not familiar with international licensing agreements, seek professional help. If you are working with an acquiring publisher’s contract, read it very carefully; it will be drafted in their favour.
Rod Hare is Managing Director of ALC, an international rights agency based in the UK and Australia. He has been representing publishers and selling rights for over 15 years. He can be contacted on 07561 567675 or by email at email@example.com. Visit ALC’s website for details of their services. ALC is supporting the IPG’s Children’s Special Interest Group dinner on 11 September. For more information about it, click here.