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How I Spurred Foreign Sales

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After spending three years
writing Eternal
Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
, and then
trying to find a publisher for it, I published it myself in 2002 with the help
of Lantern Books in New York, which became the book’s distributor.

 

Since it had been rejected 83
times by publishers in my own country (often because it was “too strong”), I
never imagined that the book would sell well to publishers abroad. But some
steps I took proved to helpful in selling foreign rights. At this point, I have
made nine foreign rights deals.

 

Here are some suggestions based on
what worked for me:

 

Enlist
organizations as supporters.
Even
before I began writing my book, I wrote to American animal-protection
groups—PETA, ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine, Friends of Animals, and others—to ask them for
letters supporting my book’s thesis because I wanted to use the letters to
persuade agents and publishers that an audience existed. More than 20
organizations sent me letters, which I was able to use in promoting my own
edition.

.

Create
a Web site for your book.
The one
I launched early on has pages for Excerpts, Overview, Foreword, Preface,
Afterword, News, Reviews, and Author Bio, as well as a Support page listing
groups. That page (www.powerfulbook.com/support)
kept expanding. Today it lists the names of several hundred groups around the
world, and the longer it got, the more attractive the prospect of being
included on it became. Even now, although I have stopped seeking that kind of
support, people contact me to ask that their groups’ names be added.

 

Send
emails to targeted people in the countries where you want to be published.
<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> I emailed people in animal rights, vegetarian, and
environmental groups around the world, asking if I could list them as
supporters. Later, I approached some of these supporters in other countries to
ask if they could recommend publishers and help me make contact.

 

Send
out press releases.
Once I knew my
book was going to be published, I sent out low-cost press releases to inform
the world about it and its growing international support. Now, every time a new
translation appears, I send out a new press release.

 

Publishing Partners Step
Forward

 

Less than a year after my book’s
American publication, my work began to pay off. A young Italian doctor, an
animal-rights activist who headed his own group in Milan, emailed to tell me
that he had ordered and read my book after he learned about it on the Internet.
Not only that, he had taken it upon himself to translate it into Italian, and
he had found a publisher for it. When he asked me whether what he had done was
OK, I picked myself off the floor and said, Sure! Later that year (2003), Editori
Riuniti in Rome published Un’eterna Treblinka, the first foreign edition of my
book.

 

This turned out to be a continuing
pattern: activists abroad found out about my book on the Internet or from my
emails and worked to make it available in their own languages to help advance
their cause.

 

For instance:

 

Animal rights activists in Poland,
who also discovered my book on the Internet, emailed to say they wanted to
translate it and publish it themselves. Eager to have a second foreign edition
in print, I wrote up a contract and sent it to them. Ultimately, they concluded
that they were not up to the task, but they found a small vegetarian publisher
who did the translation and published <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Wieczna Treblinka
.

 

An American animal-advocate of
Czech ancestry who lived in Minnesota learned about the book from its Web site,
paid for a translation himself (he had already arranged and financed the
translation of Peter Singer’s <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Animal Liberation
), and arranged for <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Vecna Treblinka
to be published in Prague.

 

Other countries where activist
interest led to publication include Croatia and Israel. Animal Friends
Croatia—that country’s leading animal-rights group—translated my book and
arranged for publication of Vecna Treblinka in Zagreb, and a dedicated Israeli animal
activist, who spent two years looking for a publisher, finally found a small
house in Haifa that published the Hebrew edition in early 2006.

 

Without any activist promptings, a
German publisher—Zweitausendeins in Frankfurt am Main—discovered the book on
the Internet and published Für die Tiere ist jeden Tag Treblinka in 2004. This
version of the title—“For the Animals Every Day Is Treblinka”—is from the
quotation from Isaac Bashevis Singer that is the book’s epigraph.

 

In the meantime, I had hired an
agent to represent my book at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but for two years in a
row there were no takers. This confirmed my belief that enthusiastically
dedicated animal advocates were my best bet by far for getting my book
published abroad. So I stepped up my email campaign to animal groups in
countries where it had not yet been published, asking activists there if they
could suggest publishers who might be interested. And I continued sending new
press releases, followed by new waves of emails, every time a new edition came
out.

 

My ongoing email communication has
led to French, Spanish, and Portuguese editions, which will be out in 2007.
Translations are also under way in Serbia, Slovenia, and Japan.

 

While my book is hardly a
bestseller in any of the countries where it has been published, I’m glad that
it’s getting exposure in different cultures. As concern for animals and the
Earth grows—and thank goodness that is happening—interest in my book is sure to
increase as well.

 

Charles Patterson is a
teacher, an editor, and the author of 10 books. For more information, visit
www.excellenteditor.com.

 

 

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