Introducing your translated book to readers can be an excellent form of virtual travel. Just think of all those new friends you can visit when the world opens back up.
Travelers—especially writers—often collect surprising experiences and specific, colorful, and possibly useless details.
When your book travels, you may learn that Malaysia’s currency is called a Ringgit (RM), that the Thema code for your genre is YGBH (children’s interactive and activity: hidden object / search and discover), or that readers in another country have strong feelings about a vegetable featured in your book’s title.
To market your book, you don’t need to pass for a native. Show your interest in the rest of the world, use what you learn, and keep your slightly exotic flair. This is travel. It’s okay not to know the correct answers. #NotFromHere Celebrate your small culture and language wins. They could be perfect social media posts.
With the pep talk out of the way, here are seven ways to explore the world of international book marketing.
- “Get” Your Readers
Look for market research for the language and countries you are interested in so you can figure out what’s important to the people you want your book to “meet.” Open your mind to the world and let your book take you new places. Learn about international pricing with a free email course or watch basic videos on marketing in Germany.
- Get a Publisher
Just because you’re an indie author doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Consider selling foreign rights to a publisher for a specific time period. Or offer a short fiction piece to a magazine publisher who is willing to translate it for publication.
- Get Categorical
You probably know how important browse categories are for your book on US retailers. Even more than keywords, which aren’t used by all vendors, categories tell booksellers, librarians, and shoppers about the genre of your book.
When you dig deep into the metadata of your book, the international databases can help you find readers. If you have your own ISBNs, your ISBN agency (Bowker, Nielsen, etc.) allows additional information about your title in their database. IngramSpark, StreetLib, and GooglePlay Books allow international categories too.
- Get Your Translator
Your translator could be the perfect person to help you with your foreign language author bio, book blurb, keywords, categories (sometimes the translation tools can’t hack them), taglines, and hashtags. Think about marketing ingredients you can use repeatedly, such as that traveler’s classic, “Where is the bathroom?” You might also ask your translator to point out a favorite quote from each chapter that you can pair with an image to use for advertising or social media.
- Get Your Distributors
Look for marketing opportunities for your target country and language. Amazon has multiple marketplaces. PublishDrive has a different business model (monthly fee instead of percentage), but Chinese, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, or Romanian translations might make it worthwhile. Authors can apply for promotion slots as they become available. Draft2Digital has offered promotion slots with France’s Vivlio. Kobo’s team supports translations and original language books in France, Italy, Netherlands, and Canada. Germany’s tolino media offers marketing support for authors who are direct with their platform.
- Get Advertisers
Promotional services other than pay-per-click advertising are available in some other markets. Skye Mackinnon’s book gives lucid and concise explanations of the sometimes overly complicated distributor and advertising options in Germany. Readers in the Know has an extensive list of promotion sites to check.
- Get Connections
It’s easier to meet people in a new place when you have a friend or a contact to introduce you. Share what you’ve learned about Malaysian Ringgits and team up for new adventures.
The classic marketing approaches of newsletter swaps, joint promotions, giveaways or even reader discussion groups can work for translations too. Find travel companions for you and your book in the Facebook groups below, and have a great trip!
“What Readers Want” infographic and article: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/what-readers-want-2022
“How German Readers Find Books” (2017): https://indiesgogerman.com/how-german-readers-find-and-choose-ebooks-a-survey
International Publishers Association: https://internationalpublishers.org/our-industry-menu/statistics-and-market-insights
The New Publishing Standard”: https://thenewpublishingstandard.com
“Tips For Translation, Self-Publishing, And Marketing In Foreign Languages With Nadine Mutas” The Creative Penn (paranormal author publishing in English, German, Italian, and French): https://thecreativepenn.com/2021/05/03/translation-and-marketing-in-foreign-languages
Self-Publishing in German: How to Translate, Publish and Market Your Books by Skye B. MacKinnon: www.amzn.com/B08TCJDCXH
Playing the Short Game: How to Market and Sell Short Fiction by Douglas Smith: https://books2read.com/b/bo6R14
How Authors Sell Publishing Rights: ALLi’s Guide to Working with Publishers, Producers and Others: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/books/rights-licensing
Click on “preorder” to enter your email address to be notified when the book becomes available. Free to Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli) members or purchase from the online shop. Read an excerpt on Jane Friedman’s blog (updated in 2019): https://janefriedman.com/selling-books-internationally
DeepL translator: https://deepl.com/translator
Thema international book categories: https://editeur.org/151/thema
Helpful PDF for booksellers that gives examples of how publishers (like you) used Thema codes to describe their books: https://editeur.org/files/Thema/20200626%20Thema%20for%20Booksellers.pdf
BISAC codes: https://bisg.org/page/BISACEdition
GooglePlay Books list of accepted book category standards: https://support.google.com/books/partner/answer/3237055?hl=en
Amazon categories by marketplace: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200652170
Anja Bauermeister free German Marketing Mini Course (A solid overview from 2016): https://indiesgogerman.com/
“Pricing Books for an International Audience” by Zsofia Macho of PublishDrive (No longer new, but one of the best free Reedsy online courses.) https://blog.reedsy.com/learning/courses/distribution/pricing-books-international/
Facebook groups for marketing translations
Marketing German Romance Books: https://facebook.com/groups/marketinggermanbooks by Skye B. Mackinnon
Author Support Network https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuthorSupportNetwork by Marie Force (The group covers many topics. Search for translations.)
The International Indie Author https://www.facebook.com/groups/441469159372773/ by Mark Williams.
Promotion sites Readers in the Know: 100+ Book Promotion Sites & Free Submission Tool (Click on the “International Coverage” column to see which countries are included.):
https://readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites German promo newsletters in Germany from July 2020. From Die Self-Publisher Bibel (For excellent directions and tips about these sites in English, see Skye B. Mackinnon’s book above.): https://selfpublisherbibel.de/marketing-tipp-wo-sie-auf-preisaktionen-aufmerksam-machen-koennen
Overview and brief description of many international retailers and libraries: https://streetlib.com/distribution/retail-partners
Ask Kobo Anything: Going Global https://youtube.com/watch?v=JNeGYQqRO9c introduces contacts at Kobo Writing Life for France, Italy, Netherlands, and Canada. No German language contact because tolino media is Kobo’s partner there.
Kobo Writing Life French Blog: https://kobowritinglife.fr
Kobo Writing Life Italian Blog: https://kobowritinglife.it
tolino media marketing contact available for authors direct with tolino: email@example.com Publishing directly with tolino requires a bank account with an International Bank Account Number (IBAN), but there’s no requirement for the bank to be within Europe. Free advertising space in the tolino alliance network of stores is offered for e-books published to a professional standard, based on availability.