If you’ve never considered trying to sell more books internationally, maybe you should. English is the primary language spoken lots of places, with around 20% of the world speaking and reading it. That translates to 1.5 billion people. If that number doesn’t sway you, consider this: Germany has 51.5 million English speakers and has 7 billion in sales for English language books alone. The third largest market in English is India, behind the US and UK. So an international sales strategy is smart book marketing!
Some authors, wanting to dig into international markets and sell more books there, will work with foreign rights or translators. Both of these options can get quite pricey. And while this is still a good thing to consider, often the cost of a book translator (which can exceed $30,000), doesn’t always make sense or most authors.
What can you do if you’re eager to add this to your book marketing to-do list and tap into the international market? Well, consider some tools you may already have at your disposal. Because there’s a lot of book sale opportunity outside of the US that you already have at your disposal. Also keep in mind that it’s not necessary to do each one of these steps. Though some, as you’ll note, are important to gain momentum in other countries.
Let’s have a look at some ways you can access these readers and sell more books:
Sell More Books with Amazon Author Central – International
Although Amazon’s Author Central isn’t in every country in the world, it is in a select few. So if you haven’t already tried this book marketing tactic, grab your Author Central page in the countries listed below. Can this help you sell more books internationally? Yes, it can. When I’ve updated and grabbed these international pages, I’ve seen a boost in book sales on those specific platforms.
Amazon is working on making Author Central information universal across their platforms. By this I mean that whatever you post to your US page, should get copied over to your international pages, but this isn’t always the case. So check the links below to make sure that you’ve grabbed these pages and updated them with your information and any book detail you already have on your US page. I did a blog post on this, so click here if you’d like a walk-through of this process.
- France: https://authorcentral.amazon.fr/
- Germany: https://authorcentral.amazon.de/gp/home
- Japan: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.jp/gp/home
- UK: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/home
And, if you think your Amazon game could be stronger, we’d love to help you sell more books on Amazon. Click here to get started!
Make Sure Your Book is Listed with Retailers Who Work in Overseas Markets
Surprisingly, Amazon doesn’t own the entire overseas market. Which means that if you’re serious about selling more books in other markets outside the US, you may have to look at other sales portals for your book marketing. For example, in The Netherlands and Belgium, Bol.com is the biggest retailer of books. Kobo has a large market share in Canada.
Within each country there are specific retailers that cater to that region, though many of them are so small I wouldn’t necessary encourage a link there. Keep in mind that you don’t have to access each of these sites online. Many of them are part of expanded international distribution packages through places like Ingram Spark and Createspace. Make sure to ask your publisher who they are distributing books to.
The only exception to this, right now, is Bol.com which isn’t currently in any distribution agreements that I could find. If all of this seems too complex, you could just hold out until Amazon builds their overseas networks. Right now, of all of the overseas Amazon sites, the UK is the biggest generator of international book sales.
The other reason I mention digging into other sales platforms is that eBooks aren’t as big a deal in international markets as they are in the US. In Belgium, for example, they still prefer an actual printed book. Germany is growing its digital readers almost daily, and the UK is another big eBook market. None of them are as big as the US market, because readers are still divided between a print book, and the eBook. So just keep that in mind as you’re looking into selling more books in non-US markets.
Book Covers Overseas
If you’re serious about taking your book marketing overseas, consider adapting your cover to markets in the various countries. Why? Because big New York publishers know that a cover not adapted to the market, can really hurt book sales in those countries.
If you’re looking at genre fiction, for example, most covers in the UK, France, and Germany may be softer than their US counterparts. In the US we like to see faces on our covers, especially in romance, but that’s not the case for most international countries. A couple embracing is often enough to get the message across that your book is romance.
A good cover designer can guide you on how to do this. Have a look at some of these international covers, compared to their US counterparts and you’ll begin to see what I mean.
Here is the US version of Sophie Kinsella’s book, compared to the German version of this book:
And have a look at Jojo Moyes book covers in the US, vs. Germany:
If you’re wanting to take this route to sell more books internationally, talk to your cover designer first to see what’s possible.
Adapt to Overseas Book Formats
As I mentioned previously, while the eBook market for books has exploded in the US, but this isn’t true for every market. Most European countries are very slow adopters of the eBook market. And while 80% of fiction is read digitally in the US, the same isn’t true for many international markets. Make sure that you have print books available on other retailers in the various countries you want to start getting sales in. In most cases, you can do this through Amazon.com and its associated international sites as long as your distribution package supports international sales.
Another point of adoption might be your eBook format. The norm for almost every site overseas is ePub, and now Kindle is also accepting ePub as a format to access their store. So be mindful of eBook specific formats that each retailer might want and have them ready to upload.
Reach out to Amazon Reviewers in Each Region
We all know that in order to sell more books, you often need reviews – and in many cases more reviews. Amazon’s platforms do incorporate all of the US reviews for the book, but they show up separately and farther down the page, which is a shame. So if you’re looking to add more reviews to your Amazon book page in the various international book markets, here’s how to do it.
Amazon is known for its top reviewers, and this is true for just about every country. Take a few minutes to head on over to an overseas Amazon page and find folks who might review your book on their international platform. To do this, you’ll want to start by digging for a similar book to see who’s reviewed it. If that book has international reviewers, you can easily click through and find their profile information and contact points. For example, I started with the Jojo Moyes book mentioned earlier, this gal, Sparkly Word has a profile picture, which mean she’s probably taken the time to fill out her full Amazon UK profile. When I clicked her name, take a look at what I found:
Here’s her profile with her website URL, so you can write her directly!
Much like the US market, another way to grab international reviews is to search the reviewer lists in each country. For example, here’s the link to the UK reviewers:
Now you’ll still need to vet this list of reviewers, first. Make sure that you carve out some book marketing time to do that, too. Once you know what types of books they like to review, you can take a moment to pitch them. Nothing says “buy me!” like a lot of book reviews!
Target Social Media Ads in Other Countries
This is pretty easy to do, thanks to focused targeting by Facebook and the like. It’s easy enough to target by region or region. And if you do this, it’s a great time to use that specially-designed book cover to entice more readers to your virtual door.
As with any ad, whether you run it in the US or elsewhere, makes sure there’s a strong call to action (CTA) for your book. Maybe run an eBook promo in that specific country, or discount your printed book for a day or so and let the ad be your sales tool to drive more attention to the book promotion.
Any ad, regardless of where you run it, should have a strong action item associated with it. That’s book marketing 101 and a better way to sell more books, rather than leaving it up to the public to decide what action they’ll take.
Target Book Bloggers in Specific Regions
This is possible, but it does get tricky. Why? Because not all book bloggers in international markets have big followings. However, when I recently did a search of book bloggers in India, I found an enormous list with bloggers who were quite serious about their work. Each country varies in terms of bloggers who post consistently, and a quick look at their blog will tell you whether it’s worth contacting them or not.
To find book bloggers, just do a Google search of “book bloggers” and insert the country you’re looking to get reviews in. For example, a quick search of Germany, turned up this link: http://the-book-garden.blogspot.com/p/austrian-and-german-book-bloggers.html
From there, you can find bloggers specific to your genre, or in some cases general interest bloggers with a big enough following (and consistent posts) to pitch your book to.
Selling more books internationally is easier than it’s ever been. With numerous portals and access options, you could really spike your sales in a variety of markets. All it takes is a little effort and some research and a few strong book marketing strategy goals to get into these markets and sell more books internationally.
If you’ve done any overseas promotions, I’d love to hear your stories – or what you’ve done to market your book in specific international markets!
Great post. Thank you.
Anindita, thank you for reading. Please let me know if you’ve got any questions or suggestions!
I am currently working on my nonfictional book to get it sold across the world. I am hoping to sell more in every country globally, as far as the subject is concerned. I do not have a publisher at the moment, but I simply want to get the message the book discusses thoroughly to everyone in the world, so what do I do differently?
You can make a small order quantity and pre-sell and do public shows of your idea of the book.
Make some tictok videos and talk about your book!
This is great information and I would like to know more.
Sharon, thanks for your comment! Feel free to contact us if you’d like some more info!
Hi, Kobo distributes to bol.com. Is that what you were looking for?
Somewhere I’ve noticed it was mentioned “there are agents to help us, for free.”
Where are they!?
Any link with a list ?
Thanks a lot,