26 Tips for Licensing International Rights
“Our books do very well in some countries. But there are cultural differences, and our books would not sell well in other countries,” Calliotte says. “We have quite a few books for caregivers on working with infants. In some countries, mothers stay home with their children until the age of two, so they would not have a market for a book like that.”
Allison Olson, a freelance rights agent, looks closely at each country to determine if it is a viable market for selling licensing rights. Her agency, in Woodbury, Minn., is called Letter Soup Rights. Eighty percent of her current work is for Career Press Inc., a publisher of 75 career, personal finance and real estate books each year, based in Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Olson first determines each country’s overall population and the population of literate adults. She also examines the political atmosphere to determine whether publishers in each country need permission to publish certain books, as is the case in China with New Age titles. Olson also examines whether it is difficult for the licensees to get foreign currency out of the country, as is the case with Nigeria publishers. She says publishers from Nigeria typically make payments in cash while attending book fairs.
Olson says there is always the issue of trust with regard to royalties. “One has to take the licensee’s word on their reports and sales figures,” Olson says.
Other than some payment issues, Olson says there are not many hurdles regarding logistics, thanks to e-mail and books being available in electronic formats. “It is quite cheap and efficient to provide licensees with both samples and electronic files of titles they license,” Olson says. “Communication has been greatly enhanced by e-mail. I frequently work late at night and early in the morning, due to time zone differences.”