Dear Miss Snark, I was wondering if you could fill me in on how you go about selling foreign rights?
My agent gets me to post out my books to scouts (I therefore know she's only submitted to five people) and says, after a sale has gone through (she has sold twice to foreign publishers who contacted me via my website), that she 'never chases up payments as they are notoriously slow and will turn up eventually'. Is this normal procedure?
Forever your snarkling... NRB
If I had a nickel for every time I've had to chase down missing money from Tinkerbellistan I'd have enough cash to buy my own saloon and quit paying retail for gin.
There are a couple ways to capture the foreign rights market. One is to sell to a publisher who has a crackerjack team in place and let them do the heavy lifting. The other is to hitch up with a foreign rights specialist and let her do the heavy lifting. The third is to query foreign agents and scouts directly to dangle appetizing offerings in front of their picky little probisci.
As you might imagine, we do all three, depending on the book and the publisher.
Foreign rights are notorious for slow pay, late pay, no pay and screwy bank deals. They also can be barely worth the money. However (you knew there was a however right) they ARE good for buzz and "rights sold in Rabbitania, Slovakia, Pluto and New Jersey" are very nice things to trot out for creating interest in the book here.
I'm not sure if "they money will turn up eventually" is anything I'd ever want to hear my agent say about royalties but generally it's true.