Writer's Digest

Foreign Rights Sales

Signing a book deal with a publisher is among the most exhilarating experiences for a writer. For some authors, it’s just the beginning, as agents and publishers may also be able to sell foreign rights to international publishers, extending a book’s reach and life, and bringing the writer extra income.

Here, experts share inside information about the international intrigue of foreign rights.


Authors who sign with a literary agent to represent their book, and hopefully sell to a publisher, can typically expect their first sale to be in their home country. Here in the United States, a literary agent first negotiates with U.S. publishers looking for a sale. After that, an author might get lucky enough to sell the rights to publication in other countries, known as “foreign rights” or “subsidiary rights.” In the case where a publisher is also an international conglomerate, a first U.S. sale is not a guarantee that the international branches of the publisher will automatically buy the foreign rights, however; publishers assess each deal for its potential to reach an international audience. After the first deal is made, the literary agent has several options: They may work with a foreign rights’ co-agent within their own agency, contract out with a freelance foreign rights’ agent, or sell those foreign subsidiary rights to the publisher directly.

In a nutshell, says Taryn Fagerness, owner of Taryn Fagerness Agency, a foreign rights’ agent based in Tacoma, Washington, “I work with co-agents, I help negotiate the deal, I do the contract, I chase payments and help authors with tax forms, and

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