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Foreign Translation Rights

Maria Jesus Aguilo Posted by Maria Jesus Aguilo, Director of Subsidiary Rights, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Maria Jesus is the Director of Subsidiary Rights at Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Foreign Translation Rights


How does selling foreign rights work?

At Berrett-Koehler we have a very active foreign translations operation. Our books are routinely translated into several languages, and, unless the subject area of the book is of little interest to foreign publishers, we can guarantee that a book will be translated and published in at least one other language.

We have a strong network of over 450 publishers overseas that regularly get our updates, catalogs, e-newsletters, and are very familiar with our list of books. In a few countries (including China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Greece and Hungary), we sell the rights via agents.

We meet with most of our partners in person at several annual International Book Fairs Conferences, like the Frankfurt Book Fair, the London Book Fair, the Book Expo America, and the Guadalajara Book Fair. When a publisher shows interest in a particular title, we promptly follow up with additional material such as the book proposal, manuscript, galley or finished book. Most foreign translation rights sales happen after the English language book has been published, but occasionally we sell the rights at the proposal or manuscript stage. In any case, it takes usually 18 months from the date of signature of agreement for a book to be published by a foreign publisher.

FAQs About Foreign Translation Rights

1. Does Berrett-Koehler translate the books?

No, Berrett-Koehler sells the rights to translate and publish a book to a foreign publisher. They are in charge of commissioning and paying for the translation and the production and marketing of the book in their local language.

2. Will Berrett-Koehler sell copies of my foreign editions?

No, Berrett-Koehler only sells books in the English language. But we will do as much as we can to facilitate contact between you and your foreign publishers so that you can order directly from them, often at a discount of at least 50%.

3. I have a colleague in Korea (or China, or Germany) who wants to translate my book…

Though we do not want to discourage your colleague’s enthusiasm for your book, Berrett-Koehler does not commission or pay for translations. The publisher who acquires the rights has the say on who will be translating the book. Your colleague can help you by finding a publisher in his or her territory that might be interested in acquiring the rights and negotiating a translation commission with them.

4. My colleague wants to acquire the translation rights!

Please note that Berrett-Koehler tries to sell translation rights only to established publishers who can prove that they have the resources to publish and distribute the book. Selling the rights to an individual or organization with no publishing experience may prevent those rights from being properly utilized. We have a lot of experience facilitating connections between foreign publishers and authors’ affiliates or colleagues in different territories. Please always keep us posted if you have colleagues that could help in bringing a book out in a particular language.

5. Will I get copies of my book in the foreign language?

Our standard agreement contains a clause asking publishers to send us six sample copies of their foreign language edition. Most publishers comply with this clause. Once we get these books we promptly forward five of the six copies to the authors.

6. What can I do to help with foreign translation rights?
  • A lot! Always keep your international connections in mind, and let us know about them!
  • If you have been published previously and your work has been translated, please provide us with a list of your foreign publishers.
  • If you have foreign affiliates, please let us have their contact information.
  • Let us know when you are going to visit a particular country, or if you have clients using your books that have a strong international presence. Once an author gave a talk to a group of visiting Japanese CEOs. He mentioned it to us, and that was enough for us to get a lucrative Japanese translation deal for his book.