Foreign Editions – The Good, The Bad, and The . . . HUH?!?
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!