Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Agent Michelle Grajkowski on Foreign Rights

Join us as Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency talks about Foreign Rights.

Hablas espanol?

Or, more importantly,

Vendes espanol?

Whoa! I had to dig way back to my freshman year of college for today's Spanish lesson - let's hope I remembered correctly!

Do I speak Spanish - a si, a si.

Do I sell Spanish (rights) - sometimes.

Just as with every client, every contract is unique. Some publishers have a strong track record in selling foreign rights. Others, no so much. And, some projects have wonderful foreign market appeal - others just would do better stateside. So, when negotiating the rights on a contract, I really evaluate the pros and cons of asking to reserve the rights on behalf of my author.

For example, houses like Harlequin have a wonderful network of overseas partners. It makes more sense for the author to keep the rights with that house.

Another example is in the children's picture book market. Before an editor makes an offer for a children's book project, they normally evaluate it to make sure that they will be able to sell the rights worldwide. An interesting aside - most houses do not buy books that rhyme because they do not translate well in foreign languages.

I have a strong network of foreign contacts in both the young adult and the adult romance market. In most cases I work with a co-agent or a scout to sell the rights.

A foreign rights co-agent works much the same way that a literary agent does. The difference is that instead of selling projects here in the US, they have contacts across the globe and sell previously published materials to them. They normally have specific countries that they work with and do a lot of traveling to foreign books fairs like Bologna and Frankfurt. Also, there are many agents that I work with that live overseas and are selling US projects to their home countries.

Before I work with a co-agent, I get the approval from my authors because as it states in my contract, the commission rate increases to 20%. I am not getting the additional 5%, rather the co-agent and I split the commission 10/10.

In a previous post, I mentioned movie scouts. A foreign rights scout works in that same capacity. They work with a specific publisher in a specific country and make recommendations for them to buy certain projects. For example, the scout may show their client (the publisher) a list of 10 recommended YA projects that they think they should purchase. The publisher, in turn will evaluate the list and will more than likely purchase titles based on the past performance of titles that they bought on recommendation from that particular scout in the past. Again, when an agent works with a scout, the scout would be considered a co-agent and they would again split the commission 10/10.

Finally, I also work directly with numerous foreign rights

A great way to get noticed by the foreign scouts/publishers is to post your sales on Scouts (both film and foreign rights) and agents scour the posts frequently for hot new projects. With anything, getting your name out there is key.

So, buenas suerte! Adios, until next week!


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