|Be the Intrepid Salesman!|
Do you know the story of the two salesmen who went to sell sandals to people on a remote island? One of them came back and said, there is no potential because no one wears sandals there. The second one came back and said he can capture a big share of the market because no one wears sandals and he would be the first one to show them a pair.
|Publishing across the world|
But that does not mean the rest of the world is not making movies or publishing books. For example, the market I’m most familiar with next to Britain is India. India stands first in the world in making movies. It has the 5th largest English-language book publishing industry. There is no denying that people are creating and selling literature in every single country, but as British writers we often forget the international market.
Second book in the Farmer Falgu Series
with Karadi Tales
My contract with OUP Pakistan is due to my over-enthusiastic cheekiness. OUP Pakistan purchased rights to my first picture book Where is Gola’s Home? from Tulika Books. Wow, OUP! I celebrated when I saw the email. Then I had a thought. Now that they know me, perhaps I could submit to them directly.
Tulika Books published this book
in 5 bi-lingual languages& sold rights for English-Urdu to OUP, Pakistan
So I wrote to OUP Pakistan and asked if they would review another title from me. What was the worst that could happen – they would say no. Well they said yes. Although it took more than 2 years to materialize, they have confirmed that they want to publish it.
While I got published in the Indian subcontinent and in Singapore, I did want a book in the UK too. That’s where SCBWI came in. Back in the days in 2006-7 the lovely Sara Grant ran the professional series from her apartment. I met Mara Bergman who invited me to submit to her. Two years later, I had a book with Walker Books. In my mind, that was a big milestone – because now I could go into Waterstones and ask for my book and it would be there.
I’m doing another book with Walker Books and with Mara Bergman and I’m quite eager to point out that I want more books in the UK – there’s no denying that. I do school visits here and I live here and my family lives here and of course as an author I want to be present here. But that doesn’t mean I can’t travel.
Now I have books in the US, UK, Singapore, India and Pakistan. Where should I go next, I wonder. I’m always thinking about where the Indian diaspora is spread - like South Africa, maybe the Middle-East, and definitely in North America. Korea is another dream I have – they want more English-language books there and I have come in touching distance couple of times. So this definitely needs more effort.
Find your connection to the cultures and countries you are drawn to. Do you think your book would appeal to an audience in a different country? Stories are universal, aren’t they? Non-fiction is even more universal. There are many regional and small press publishers in the world. There are publishers in the English-speaking commonwealth and there is always the US. In a way agents do this too when they can’t place your book here in the UK. They find other territories, and publishing houses that might like your book. It is all about taste, isn’t it?
The second most important thing in this journey is networking. I make connections during conferences or online or during courses. And I follow-up. If I meet an editor, I always send submissions to them.
Thirdly, do the research and the homework. Not all publishers accept email submissions. So it could be costly to submit. So choose carefully and submit only if you’re happy with their legitimacy. It goes without saying though - don’t send money and your bank account details along with your submission.
My final tip comes with SCBWI discounts. Two years ago I went to the London Book Fair – it was great to be recognized in the Singapore stalls. I met with some publishers from other parts of the world because their stalls were not teeming with agents. I got to talk to people, give my card, pick up theirs. Then the next step is research on the Internet and if anything looks promising, submit. But getting results is a long trek. Who knows -one day you will see my celebrations article on my book coming out in Timbuktu.
Going global is a reality for most merchants, manufacturers, artists and singers. And so for writers. Whether you sell rights or publish with a foreign publisher, it is all about presence. If you believe in your book, find the right home and loving readers. It could be the one around the corner from you or the across the continents three time zones away.
Want to find out more?
Here are some interesting articles on publishing in other territories.
- You can find out some recent trends in this huge potential market in India here.
- Here is an overview of the Brazilian market where books are becoming a staple. And an article from the Frankfurt Book Fair from previous years.
- This is an article about the growing fiction scene in South Africa.
- Here is a publishing perspective on the Korean publishing market.