Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Friday, March 14, 2014

New Release: Open Minds (Mindjack #1) in German

Now available in German!
Temporary price: $0.99 and 0.99 € Euro
Wenn jeder Gedanken liest, kann ein Geheimnis eine gefährliche Sache sein.
(When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.)
(Translation by Michael Drecker)

Foreign Rights
Selling your ebook worldwide is both easy and extremely difficult. Amazon automatically distributes your ebook to 245 territories (from Guam to Germany). Createspace now sources locally for print books in Europe, and Expanded Distribution will get you into the Book Depository, which ships free to 100 countries. Apple distributes to 50 countries. Kobo is big in Canada and, to some extent, in Europe. XinXii will distribute to many smaller ebook retailers in Europe.

The US is by far the biggest ebook market, but the rest of the world is slowly catching up. The UK market is next largest (in English), with Europe, Canada, and Australia on the rise. Even in English-speaking markets, sometimes story concepts don't translate well, but getting a toehold is mostly a matter of discoverability. Having a free book in a series helps - once Open Minds (English version) went free in the UK and DE, Closed Hearts and Free Souls sales picked up.

The non-English-speaking ebook markets are also taking off, but tapping into those markets requires translation. Normally, that would mean selling foreign rights to a publisher, who would pay translation costs, distribute the book, and take the vast share of the profits. Unless you're selling very sell, most indies will not attract foreign publisher interest, and translation costs can be prohibitive ($5k-$10k per novel). And even if you pay for a translator, how do you reach the readers in that market? It seems a bit daunting at best.

A Translator Finds Me
A friend of mine (EM Tippetts) found a great German translator (Michael Drecker) for her romance novels and she basically hooked us up, saying, "Michael and Sue, you should work together." (Do I have the most awesome friends, or what?) I was intrigued - he was willing to negotiate a revenue share agreement as well as help with discoverability in Germany. Michael was interested as well, but he was booked for six months. However, I'm in this business for the long haul, and six months isn't too long to wait for the chance to work with the right person. I told him to keep me in mind for when his schedule cleared.

An Innovative Contract
It took more like 8 months before we were able to talk contracts, and over a year before the translation was ready to launch (today! yay!), but it was worth the wait.

Michael is an experienced translator, but also an innovative one. Our contract is a royalty-share-based one that makes him more than just a translator – he’s a partner in producing and marketing the German version of Open Minds. It's almost like he's an indie-author-friend in Germany who is co-producing the book - very much like working with a narrator to produce a royalty-share audiobook through ACX. Only Michael goes beyond that in reaching out to his own set of book bloggers in Germany, as well as having strategies for producing our initial large free sample, as well as the best pricing for Germany. All of which is not only a tremendous help, but I think a key in the future success of the series in that market.

The German Market
You can sell in the German market without translation – there are a surprising number of English-reading people living there, and I’ve had some success with the Mindjack series in English. I did little to market in Germany, but occasionally tipped onto the bestseller charts anyway. Even though Europeans are famously multi-lingual, I’ve been told they often find it easier to read in their native language. Which makes complete sense. And I have hopes that the German version will do even better.

There is more to the German market than just, Kobo, and Apple – in fact, in 2013, Amazon's ebook marketshare fell to about 65% as an alliance of local book retailers started carrying Tolino ereaders. Think of Tolino as the Nook of Germany, but instead of only selling ebooks for Nook, ebook retailers like Der Club, Hugen, Weldbild, Thalia, etc. all sell ebooks for Tolino devices. This is the local market that (I believe) primarily reads in German, but to get into those smaller Tolino retailers, you need to use a distributor (like XinXii).

Exploiting Your Rights
One of the coolest things about being indie is being able to do innovative things like sign revenue-share contracts with a translator to get my books into the German market in a real way. I'm intrigued to see how the book will be received by a culture similar to, but distinctly different from, the primarily-US-based readers who have loved the book so far.

We shall see! Wish Michael and me luck!

(And pick up a copy of Open Minds in German while it's only 99cents!)


  1. So true that authors learn to be patient. Since my next novel's setting is in the Middle East, I wonder what are the chance of finding a person to translate the book into Arabic, LOL. Congratulation on your success, Susan. Wishing you great success for sales in Germany.

    1. You never know, Feather! I think, as you go through the process of writing the book, you naturally come in contact with people who are interested in your subject area. You may well attract someone who might be able to translate. The key (and this is very difficult to know) is to find a translator that does high quality work - especially if you can't read in that language.

      But books never go away. It may take time, but you never know where things will be in the future!

      Good luck!

  2. What an exciting new journey! Congratulations! I wouldn't have a clue where to start, so it's wonderful that you have a friend to "set you up" with your translator ;-)

  3. Thanks so much for sharing all this, good info to know. Best of luck !!!
    Oh, and if I happen to hear of an Italian translator ... ;-)

    1. ... you know I will be open to it! :) Thanks!!