If you write in English and have translated your books into French or some other foreign language, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself faced with the unique challenge of selling books in markets where you may not speak the language. It’s difficult enough to gain visibility in English-speaking countries, but trying to do so in France or Germany? That can seem even more daunting.
My husband Dima Zales and I have been translating our books into French and German for years through our publishing company, Mozaika Publications, and we are now experimenting with Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish translations. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way about growing sales in the French market:
1) French readers are just as voracious as those in English-speaking countries
What that means is the more books you have translated into French, the better they’ll sell. Just like in the US, the bigger your backlist and the more frequent your releases, the better you’ll do. We try to release our French books 3-5 months after the English version comes out, so our readers in France know to mark their calendars and start the countdown as soon as the English book appears in the stores.
2) Don’t focus on just one retailer
In other countries, market share distribution is often quite different than in the US, and a retailer that might be dominant here is often much less so abroad. With our French translations, we see excellent sales on Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play, as well as Amazon. Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, is not in the French market at all, so we no longer list our French translations there.
3) Give your French readers a way to receive updates from you
It’s important to have either a dedicated French website or a page on your regular website that is entirely in French, so your readers can feel at home when they visit your website. A lot of people in Europe are multilingual and know English fairly well, but most of them still feel more comfortable with their native language.
Here’s what I did on my website with the help of my translator:
Every series has its own page in French, and I have an overall French homepage on my website under the Translations tab: http://annazaires.com/series/francais/. I include the link to that homepage in the back of every French book and direct readers to sign up for my French newsletter like this:
This way, I can send them a newsletter every time I have a French release, and they can buy or pre-order the book right away.
4) Consider paid advertising
While the French ebook market is a couple of years behind the US and thus a little less crowded, paid advertising can still be useful. Once you have enough books out, you might want to consider creating bundles of your series (series sell well in France, too) and splurging on some ads. We have recently started running Facebook ads directing readers to landing pages where we have links to Kobo and all the retailers, and it meaningfully boosted our Kobo sales last month. Here is an example of an ad we used:
It’s basically the same ad we’ve used in the US, only with our French book covers (which are identical to the US ones except for the titles) and the ad copy translated into French.
In short, if you wish to grow your sales in France, it helps to treat your translations just like your English-language books. Your French readers—a growing number of them—will thank you.
Anna Zaires is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of sci-fi romance and contemporary dark erotic romance. She fell in love with books at the age of five, when her grandmother taught her to read. Since then, she has always lived partially in a fantasy world where the only limits were those of her imagination. Currently residing in Florida, Anna is happily married to Dima Zales (a science fiction and fantasy author) and closely collaborates with him on all their works.
After graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics, Anna spent eight years on Wall Street analyzing stocks and writing research reports. In 2013, she became a full-time author, pursuing her lifelong dream of writing romance novels.
Dima Zales is the love of her life and a huge inspiration in all aspects of her writing. Every book Anna writes is a product of their unique collaborative process.