This past week, I was notified that my book, THE ART OF SEDUCTION, had been sold to the Czech Republic, and also received my copies of the Japanese edition of JUST FOR HER. So I started thinking about what an odd, surprising thing it is to sell foreign rights.
One of the best things about being a romance writer is that there’s a huge audience for the genre in nearly every country around the globe. When you’re first published, your agent tells you what percentage of foreign rights you’ll receive, but to be honest, it never really occurs to you that your books will sell to other countries. So it comes as a complete and delightful surprise. You can be going about your day and out of the blue you’ll get an email congratulating you on the sale of Such-and-Such book to Norway, or Japan, or Russia.
It’s a happy experience, but also surreal because you have absolutely no contact with the publisher in that country, and therefore no say about covers, graphics, or the translation itself. Since most of us can’t read any of these languages, you have to take it on faith that what is produced will be some semblance of your original story.
The designs of these books have varied. Most have the usual romance-type cover, but the characters depicted bear little, if any, resemblance to those you’ve created, even down to the color of their hair. Some are quite imaginatively designed. In fact, I’ve liked some better than the original U.S. covers. For instance, the Czech Republic cover for WRITTEN IN THE STARS, a novel that takes place in Egypt, carries a simple but stately likeness of the Nefertiti bust currently in the Neues Museum in Berlin. It’s my favorite of them all.
The Russian cover for MY ONE AND ONLY, which is partially set in India, has a picture of the Taj Mahal. I love the idea, but it’s also surrounded by a LOT of pink!
The Chinese cover for MASTER OF PARADISE makes it look like a gothic novel, where the heroine is running for her life from a haunted house.
I don’t really understand what attracts some countries to some books and not others. You’d think if they wanted one of your books they’d want them all, but that’s not the case. Since most of my characters are British, I would have thought the books would have sold to English publishers, but so far, none have. There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it. It’s just the luck of the draw.
Once you’ve signed the contract for a foreign edition, it can take up to a year to be paid, and even another year or two before you see the books. Definitely not a speedy process. But since it was never expected, I look upon it as icing on the cake.
The Japanese and Chinese books read backwards to us, from the back cover to the front. As I’ve lived in Asia, this wasn’t a surprise, but it’s fun to see your own book in that format.
The Japanese cover for JUST FOR HER is kind of amusing. Since my character is blond, they pictured a Japanese woman with dyed blond hair.
But the one I’m most eagerly awaiting is their manga comic version of JUST FOR HER, which is supposed to come out next year. You have to wonder how they’re going to make a Japanese comic out of a story about a Habsburg princess living in the South of France. I can’t wait to see it!
The year 2013 marks my 20th anniversary as a published writer. There were many years in the beginning when I despaired of ever being able to say that. So to celebrate this milestone anniversary, I decided to get the rights back to my first seven books (originally published by Bantam) and turn them into ebooks. It’s been a grueling year-and-a-half process, but they’re finally available. And because of the help of JW Manus, they’re gorgeous, with dazzling graphics as chapter headings. I was lucky to find Jaye, who is without a doubt a leader in the field of ebook creation. She believes ebooks should be as beautiful and respected as print books, and has proven that with her designs for mine. I can’t wait for you to see them!
I also, in this anniversary year, decided to–finally!—create a website. I resisted doing so for a long time, as I was too busy writing, but with Jaye’s help, I think we’ve come up with something stunning and a little different.
The main difference is that I’d like to share with you some of the stories behind the writing of my books, and some of the many places I’ve gone to research them. I grew up with an international background in a family of travelers, and this is reflected in my work. In the past 20 years, I’ve been to every place I’ve written about, and then some. I’ve journeyed to all seven continents, including Antarctica.
Writers are as different as any other group of people. I have great respect for an author who can sit in a room and imagine a world he/she has never seen. After all, Stephen Crane never experienced a Civil War battlefield, but he managed to write THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE.
But setting is so essential to my work that I need to go there myself, to absorb the spirit of the place, to meld with it and channel that energy. I know, for instance, that I can never describe Paris as brilliantly as the great authors have. What I can do for my readers, though, is depict the city through the unique eyes of my characters, to see everything from their points of view, to notice things only they would notice. An artist would see that world through color, light and shadow, while an actress might imagine the epic stage scenes that had transpired there. Therefore, no two descriptions of the same city in different books would be the same.
My mode of travel through the years has been different, but I found early on that, since I write historical novels, taking cruises is an ideal way to see places as my characters would. A cruise ship usually docks in the older part of town and, as my characters often arrive by ship, I can put myself in their shoes from the first sighting of land.
I’m not a backpacker. My characters are glamorous so my travels are glamorous and romantic. I stay in some of the best hotels because they do. When I write, I create a fantasy that could only happen in that particular place. But I’ve learned tricks along the way of how to travel like a jetsetter on a budget. I’ll include some of those tips in later blogs. I’ll share with you cruises I’ve loved, hotels to die for, and some practical information along the way.
So please join me on an adventure of travel and amour around the world. Whether you’re a reader of romance, an inveterate traveler, or just want to experience these wonderful places from the safety of your armchair, I hope you’ll find these blogs to be interesting, informative, and most of all entertaining.