By Matthias Matting
MUNICH: Some time ago, I interviewed Joanna F. Penn about her experience starting a new book on a foreign market – in this case Germany. I put this interview up on Selfpublisherbibel.de, my website for German self publishers. When I shared the blog post on Twitter, it sparked a short discussion. “We should have author buddies to help us with marketing on foreign markets” someone said.
Good point, I thought. Self Publishing has significantly lowered the barriers to publish a book. Nowadays, this is a global phenomenon. In the US, “more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big Five authors,” according to Hugh Howey’s Authorearnings report. And in Germany, more than half of the Kindle top 100 are ebooks by independent authors for more than a year now. In 2014, for the first time, all top 20 spots were occupied by self publishers. Authors can easily sell their books all over the world, be it in Europe or the US, in India or in Indonesia, even as far as Japan.
As every author knows, a title being available doesn’t mean a title being sold. While it is easy to reach the world wide book market, every country has its own rules and conditions. The differences start with the foreign language, but they don’t end there. For the translation itself, there are now some innovative models that fit indie authors very well. Especially the profit sharing model practised by sites like Babelcube or organized by the authors itself can decrease the risk connected with starting in a new market. Also, translators worldwide are available via sites like proz.com or freelancer.com.
But what about marketing? In your own country, you surely know your tools. You can easily find the perfect category to list your book on Amazon and B&N. You may be using GoodReads giveaways to garner reviews, later you might book a spot on Bookbub for your promotion. Now, there is no Bookbub in Italy. French readers aren’t exactly flocking to Goodreads. In Spain, the KDP categories do not mirror at all the system in the US. And if you come to Germany, you’ll notice that there even isn’t a B&N ebook store to speak of (they do have a Nook Press site in German language though).
Of course, you can try to learn how to market your book in all these countries. At least, if you speak the language or have a friend translating everything for you. If you don’t have that friend, maybe you can recruit the help of a fellow author. With around 75,000 indie authors in Germany and many more in France, Italy, Spain, Sweden… and all parts of the world, the probability is high that someone else might be looking for support on your home market. This is the idea behind Authorbuddies.com: Here both of you can meet and talk.
The site is free, but of course, getting help is not. You are required to provide your own knowledge to your foreign colleague. You could show her book to your mailing list. You could refer him to the best places, paid or free, to actually promote his work. You surely know the people that should be talked too. It’s just like promoting your own book.
Oh, and this is not only for independent authors. If you are working with a publisher, book marketing nowadays is your task too!