NA / WE / W -- Codes translated

Raise your hand if you have a PM account...

Now raise your hand if you have a friend with a PM account and you use it from time to time...

Ever see a deal and wonder what the ( ) at the end of the deal posting means? 

(World English)

Those indicate which rights were sold to the publisher.
  • NA: North American: publisher purchased rights to sell the book in the English language in US territories worldwide.
  • World English: publisher purchased rights to sell the book in the English language in US/UK territories worldwide. 
  • World: publisher purchased rights to sell the book in all territories and languages worldwide.

If your agent's agency has a strong subrights department within the agency, they'll more than likely try to keep translation rights and sell just North American rights to the U.S. publisher.

In some cases, if the U.S. publisher has a sister-company in the UK, they'll work together to offer on a World English offer so the book is sold in the English language by the same company.

In some cases, if the offer is big enough (or for a variety of other reasons), the publisher will buy world translation rights.

Now, why would you accept an offer for North American when the publisher could just sell the rights on your behalf?

Well for one, if you're with our agency, when I make someone's first translation sale, they get a fun YouTube video. Publishers don't do that ;-)

Otherwise, there's two main reasons agents work to keep translation rights and world English:

1. You make more from a translation sale if your agency sells it to another publisher.
    When a publisher keeps World English and / or translation, you get a split of the monies received. (math time!) 

Say your contractual split with your publisher on translation is 50/50. And let's say it's on net (after the co-agent's* cut)
And let's say your offer was $1,000 for Turkish rights for one book.
So the co-agent gets 10% of gross (-$100)
The publisher gets 50% of net $450.
And you get 50% of net.
So you get $450 that goes toward earning out your advance.
[Edited to add:]*Don't forget! The agency will get 15% of the 50% once you do earn out. 

Now, let's say your agent sold Turkish rights for $1,000 for one book. 
The co-agent gets 10% of gross (-$100)
The agent** gets 15% of gross (-$150)
You get $750 that doesn't go toward your US advance.

So in the end, you make more and it's a check to you, not toward your advance.
*co-agents are agents in other territories who help us sell books on your behalf 
-- another post on them later!
**agents will take anywhere from 10%-20% on foreign sales. Depends on the agency. 
Check your contract for more information. 
***This doesn't include taxes taken out if a territory doesn't accept tax exemption. Another post later. 

2.  Publishers have thousands of titles on their list.
And imprints have hundreds.
While publishers certainly want to make money on the books they buy and will do each book justice when it comes to pitching them to publishers overseas, the reality is that they have time to focus on only a handful of titles at a time. 

If the publisher has five amazing YA dystopians on their list, they can't really pitch all five in the same way. One of them *has* to be the lead title.

I just like this pic...*swoon*
With an agency, the chances of your book directly competing with another author's book within the same agency is very slim. And chances are the list is much smaller than a publisher's which gives you the opportunity to stand out more when the agent pitches you to foreign publishers.

Additionally, the turnaround time has the potential of being much faster when an agency keeps the rights. The agency, even if it's a large one, will probably not have more than a dozen contracts to review at one time, while a publisher may have a few dozen. And depending on the size of the publisher's subrights department, it could take them a few weeks or even months to get to it, request changes and then send it out. This delays the entire process, including payment. So it could take up to 1-2 years before you see that money posted on your royalty report (although, sometimes it only takes 6 months!). With an agency, though, they'll follow up much quicker.

Did you already know the difference between NA/WE/W? Any questions to clarify the differences?

Next post: co-agents. Who, where, and do I speak ALL of the languages?


Part of the information in this post was is an extended version from a post I previously wrote for PubCrawl in September 2012. The original/condensed version can be found here.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Good info here. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Knowledge has been gained. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Blog Archive