Saturday, August 6, 2011

International bestsellerdom

Thanks to the talents of Christa Polkinhorn, our translation of The Skull Ring (Der Schadelring) hit #48 in the German Kindle store. The little note beside it says it has spent 17 days in the Top 100. so it must have entered a couple of months ago for a while. Due to a pricing snafu related to the European value-added-tax (VAT), Amazon actually unpublished it because the price was lower elsewhere.

After I put it up and couldn't achieve the 70 percent royalty, I decided to go ahead and make it the lowest possible price. We'll earn less money but the volume should be higher until I can get the price set at $3.99 worldwide. The lesson here is, if you have a foreign edition, price it at least a dollar higher everywhere else besides your Amazon market. (Christa has a handy list of the book's various markets.)

The other interesting aspect is the German bestseller is clearly luck, an early entry into a developing market. I have done zero marketing, and I wouldn't even know where to begin if I wanted. The lower price also helps, although I was selling pretty well at around 3 euros, whereas now is 1 euro. I doubt if I will sell three times as many copies, but at least I will be able to gauge the size of the market (I'd guess the German market is about 1/2 to 1 percent the size of the US market).

I am currently developing French and Portuguese translations in addition to a deal I just signed in China. I will be developing a page to solicit translators, and there are a ton of opportunities for people with translating skills who are willing to work on a progressive, profit-sharing model. I have raised my royalty rate to 20 percent net for the translators, so even though it won't be a lot of money up front, over time it should really add up.



author Christa Polkinhorn said...

I am of course very happy Der Schädelring is doing so well. Scott Nicholson took a chance with me. I have been a professional translator for over 15 years, but I have never translated a novel before. Since I am also a novelist and have published two novels in English, and since my native language is German, I figured I'll give it a try. Now, I'm in the process of translating my own two novels into German.

Things are changing in today's writing and publishing world and so a lot of new experiments are being made. For us authors and also for translators, this is an exciting time and the chance to branch out and take some risks.

Come on, fellow German translators, hop on the gravy train!

David Gaughran said...

Hey Scott,

I really like the sound of your profit-sharing idea. Fantastic. How does that affect the upfront fee for translation? Spanish must be on your list too.