The Power of Collaboration

First published as guest post for The Alliance of Independent Authors Self-Publishing Advice Forum 22/03/19. Link

It has never been easier to spread e-books across the world. Just a few clicks is all it takes. Instantly, your lovingly-crafted words can be transported into the hands of a commuter crammed on the Tokyo subway, or a parent relaxing in a yurt in Outer Mongolia. But how do you persuade people to buy your book if you don’t speak their language?

This is a challenge I’ve been grappling with for six months since Mother of Millennials was published. The book is non-fiction, and covers subjects of global importance such as the environment, mental health, education and diversity.

I would like to reach out across the globe, and engage ordinary people in conversations about things that really matter to us as human beings. Although I have the time, energy and passion to promote my work, I don’t have the financial resources to do anything more than scratch the surface.

 

But I’m not ready to give up, and watch as an amazing opportunity fades away. Instead, I’ve decided to try a different approach. I’ve started to build a network of collaborators from non-English speaking countries. People who are willing and eager to promote Mother of Millennials in their home market. The role of the collaborators is to reach out to potential readers, and engage with them in their own language. And since they understand their fellow citizens, they are perfectly placed to ensure all communications are tailored effectively to local sensitivities and cultural norms.

The work will be funded through royalty share, with collaborators receiving 50% of royalties from all books sold in their country. Royalty share. Two dirty words in traditional book marketing, but they shouldn’t be. I believe it is a model that offers many advantages to authors and translators alike.

Let me tell you why.

John Holman c/o Eternal Landscapes Mongolia

As a small business owner, I always want to know what Return on Investment (ROI) I can expect, and when I can expect it. These are vital questions for any business, but they are questions traditional marketing companies struggle to answer. I may be alone on this, but it’s complicated  and it depends are responses that don’t fill me with enthusiasm. They certainly don’t encourage me to part with my hard-earned cash. 

Royalty share requires no investment. As a consequence, questions about ROI become irrelevant, and the dark cloud of risk begins to melt away. There are also benefits for the author that go beyond financial considerations. If you choose your collaborators well, you may find you have landed more than just a translator working a short-term gig. Instead, you could be blessed with a translator, blogger, social-media guru, cultural consultant, and long-term ambassador for your book, all rolled into one. Yes, of course there is a chance a collaboration will fail to develop, and an opportunity will be lost. However, with so many discrete markets available, the occasional failure should be of little concern.

So if royalty share offers benefits for the author, what about collaborators? What do they get out of this arrangement? The best people to answer this question are the three courageous souls who have taken the plunge. Here’s what they say.

Through this exciting journey, I get to know and meet new people, gain new work experience, and learn more about English culture.

Esther
Student, China
It is a process to co-operate with each other and what I need to do is not just translating, but also editing, researching, promoting, etc, which equips me with the ability to start my own career in the future.
Esther
Student, China
Collaborating on Mother of Millennials was the perfect opportunity to promote an important story to Hungarian readers, while at the same time building my confidence for my own book.

Beatrix
Architect, Hungary

We are at the start of an exciting adventure. 

Like-minded strangers coming together, ready to take our first steps into the unknown. There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead. But what sort of trip would it be without challenges? No lessons to learn. No stories to tell. No achievements to be proud of.

We hope to make many new friends along the way. Whether you’re an author, translator, publicist or just an interested observer, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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