How to Find the Right International Market for Your Nonfiction Book

Whether you are a big name in the local writers’ community or a passionate creator with a bright new idea, finding the right market for your book can be difficult. This is especially true if you plan to expand into international waters where a plethora of authors struggle for their moment in the spotlight. Nonfiction books often find their readers, however, due to the real-world applications and the historic value they bring to the table.

Books on self-motivation, inner healing and other DIY publications are especially prone to becoming a hit internationally. That is not to say that biographies and books on the history of the world and sciences won’t find their deserved attention – just the opposite in fact.

No matter what niche you chose to pursue in the nonfiction market, you can find an international audience eager to read what you’ve created. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several steps and guidelines you can follow in order to pinpoint the right international market for your nonfiction writing.


Develop a Reader Profile

It’s best to use your objective judgment before you try and find a publisher in the international market. Depending on the type of book you’ve written, try to establish a reader profile in regards to who may or may not want to read your book.

For example, if you wrote a book on the history of heraldry throughout Europe, you are bound to find plenty of readers in the academic circles. Alternatively, motivational books are well-suited for college students, fresh graduates or people in-between careers.

Develop a reader profile and see if you can pinpoint several reasons why this person would benefit from reading your work. That way, you will create a thought-out sales pitch for your agent or publisher, making it easier to establish a professional relationship between you.


Scour Prolific Websites

While it doesn’t involve writing or editing, scouring through prolific literature sales websites can help your publishing efforts. Websites that specialize in book sales often feature bestselling and top rated books on their home pages.

Filtering out nonfiction books and comparing your work to popular publications shouldn’t be too difficult. With that in mind, sites such as Amazon and Book Depository offer great insight into how reading trends are currently shaped. The same can be said about Goodreads, a platform dedicated to tracking reading habits and online book reviews.

Make sure to do proper research into popular and marketable nonfiction books via these and other websites. It will give you a great indication as to what territories to target with your book and what kind of commercial response to expect.


Contact Foreign Publishers

Contacting foreign publishers can typically be done in two different ways. Both ways, however, require you to develop a sales pitch for your writing (based on reader’s profile we’ve previously mentioned). Regardless, once you have discovered several well-established publishing houses in different regions, you can opt for one of the two:

  • Personal Contact – Contacting your future publishing house personally can be both a good and a bad thing. For one, a publisher might consider you professional and trustworthy enough to consider publishing your work simply due to your straightforward nature.

While you will still have to “sell” your book well and provide writing excerpts for their convenience, the process is more direct than the latter. You can also keep more of your publishing fees due to the lack of a middleman between you.

  • Agent Contact – Using an agent to find and contact publishers in your name might be a good idea if you are new to the market. Young and inexperienced writers often aren’t good at selling their work to an unknown third-party – if you are all the power to you. Agents often work on commission or a percentage of the earnings received from a closed publishing deal.

This means that agents have just as much to lose or gain from your nonfiction book publishing deal as you do. It’s also worth pointing out that if you are a writer located in Germany, you are unlikely to travel to the US or China just for a publishing meeting. This is where the true value of agents comes in the form of “boots on the ground” representation of your interests in the local area.


Consider the Editorial Rights

Unfortunately, not every country will be open to publishing your book one-for-one from its current form. Countries with large differences in culture, religion and general lifestyle choices in the population will ask for additional editing and rewrites of your book.

This is especially true for nonfiction writing since it directly references real-world situations, events and facts. It’s important then to find a publisher who is willing to work with you with minimal editing, censorship or rewrites as possible. While this may sound extreme, publishing a book written in the UK may or may not go well with readers in the Middle East, Central Asia, South America and so forth.

It’s good practice to vet your potential publishers through their websites, online forums and local readers. After all, your name will be front and center on the cover of each nonfiction book piece published internationally. Once the proverbial ink dries, there will be very little that you can do about the small lettering at the footer of your contract.


Look for Royalty Deals

Lastly, it’s worth noting that nonfiction (and other) writers typically get offers for one of two types of contracts. When it comes to considering international publishing deals, it’s good practice to contact a legal representative or ask a friend or an acquaintance to look over the contract for you just in case.

One-time payment deals consist of you receiving a flat monetary sum depending on the publisher’s policy on publishing foreign books on their market. Royalty deals, however, revolve around a continuous drip of royalties, or small monetary amounts dependent on your book’s performance on the local market. Each additional reprint would net you more gain but you should gauge your reputation as a writer and the popularity of the literary niche you write in.

Choosing the right contract deal for your nonfiction book is important for numerous reasons. You should think about the long-term plans for your career as a writer and for the book which you are about to publish before accepting either one or the other.


In Summary

Once you are happy with the conditions set between yourself and the publishing house (or houses) in question, you can then proceed to sign the contract. It’s important to publish your nonfiction writing outside of your local territories to build a literary reputation and make your publishing price point higher.

The more known you are across the globe the better deals you will be able to get for nonfiction writing. Start small and gauge your expectations – the right publisher is somewhere out there waiting for you to reach out.

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