Foreign Rights

The Global Book Agency is a full-service literary agency founded to bridge the gap between literary property owners and foreign-language publishers. By understanding the intricacies of the foreign-language marketplace and through close personal contacts with publishers around the world, TGBA enables its clients to retain complete control over their intellectual property while taking advantage of a vast and virtually untapped literary market. TGBA is committed to complete fiduciary integrity, transparency and the business ethics for our clients.

TGBA foreign publication rights are handled by a network of skilled subsidiary rights agents across the world. The principals of the Global Book Agency have successfully assisted with licensing rights in China, Germany, Australia, and Italy, to name just a few.

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Recent News:

HC Exports Crichton to China; Acquires More Local Titles
By Rachel Deahl
HarperCollins is bringing Michael Crichton to readers in China. The publisher has teamed with the Jilin Publishing Group to release a number of Chinese-language editions of Crichton's books, the first of which, Next, is being released in trade paperback there this month. Following Next Jilin and HC will release Chinese- language editions of The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery and Airframe.

HC president worldwide, Brian Murray, who made the Crichton announcement this morning in Beijing, also said the publisher is acquiring two titles in a series from local bestseller, Hongying Yang. (The publisher bought world rights to eight books by the author at the Beijing Book Fair in 2007.) The series, Diary of a Smiling Cat for readers 7-9, was acquired from Tomorrow Publishing House and will be published by HC simultaneously in English worldwide. According to HC, the books, which follow a talking cat that communicates with its owner and were published in China in 2006, have already sold over 3 million copies in the country. HC will begin publishing Yang's Ho's Mischief series in spring 2008.

The moves are part of the house's growing expansion into China, which began back in 2006.

Author John Penberthy of Boulder, Colorado, US, created Panorama Press to publish his allegory about the search for God entitled "To Bee or Not To Bee".

He expected that the book, published in 2006, would sell easily on the Internet, but he quickly learned how difficult that could be. Rather than waste time waiting for sales to come in via his Web site, he shifted his efforts. To draw attention to the book, he began marketing it by giving it away and marketing it in every forum he could find that would give attention to the book.

Since then, he’s found a conventional publisher for the book. Sterling bought the worldwide English language rights and is scheduled to publish it in December as a hardback. (It was initially a paperback when published by Panorama.) In addition, he’s successfully sold foreign rights in Korean, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian and Chinese (both complicated and simplified) for $40,000. His agents are still seeking to sell other foreign rights.

To Bee or Not To Bee is a clever allegory featuring Buzz Bee, who doesn’t quite fit into the conventional thinking in the hive. He can’t understand why the other bees work all the time, when the hive is adequately provisioned. Nor does he understand why the bees look down on the ants as a lower form of life, or why they are willing to sacrifice their lives to attack a hungry bear when it would be easier to relocate the hive to a safer place. But most of all, Buzz yearns to understand God, a quest in which he is helped along by an older and wiser Bert Bee, who is something of a mystic.

How did he attract agents to sell the foreign rights for $40,000? According to an interview he did with Penny Sansevieri, he e-mailed a number of agents. “I wrote a brief two-paragraph letter with a link to my 60-second trailer,” he said. “So they could tell very quickly if it was something they might be interested in. At the end of the trailer was a link to my site, where I offered the e-book version for free as a way of generating buzz. Interested agents could then read a few chapters to see if they wanted to request a hard copy.”

As part of his research, Penberthy located 15 Web sites that list well over 100 foreign rights agents around the world along with their e-mail addresses. That made the job of tracking down agents much easier.

Once he got an e-mail reply from an interested agent, he would send two things – a copy of the book and a detailed cover letter explaining the book, its uniqueness and market appeal and its track record.

His first deal, for Korean rights, was signed within a month after he sent the agent the book, and the Korean edition was published three months after that. His second deal, for Italian rights, took about two months because the agent took it to the Frankfurt Book Fair soon after she received the book. The Spanish and Portuguese rights took about six months to sell, again at a book fair.

If you’re interested in who sold specific rights, Korean rights were sold by the Best Agency; Italian, Spanish and Portuguese rights by Guillermo Schavelzon & Associates; China rights by Vantage Copyright Agency; and rights in Taiwan by Jia Xi Books.

Can authors expect to be reliably paid for foreign rights? “For the advance you've got leverage because you don't email the manuscript file until you get the advance,” Penberthy told Sansevieri. “But for royalties, once the advance is paid back it can be dicey, depending upon the quality of the agents and size of the publishers you're working with. My Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese contracts were secured by established agencies with large publishers. They provide computerized sales reports and are very legit. Publishers in Asia and Eastern Europe can be more problematic, depending on their size and reputation. Many of these countries have only recently signed the international copyright agreements and some of the more marginal publishers still don't feel they need to comply with them.“

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