Translate Your Book & Sell In Foreign Markets | The Urban Writers

Looking for New Markets? Translate Your Book, Quadruple Your Sales

by The Urban Writers

Are you currently selling your book on Amazon in English or are you planning on having a book ghostwritten for publication through Kindle Direct Publishing soon? Amazon has just opened up an opportunity for authors and creators that you cannot turn down. 

If your book sales are moving along nicely among your English-speaking readers, imagine the type of sales you could achieve if your book was translated into other languages, like the four main European ones ( French, German, Italian, and Spanish). 

The concept of repurposing content is not new to creators but perhaps your idea of repurposing has only ever been producing an audiobook. Imagine instead, putting in the work once and quadrupling your impact on the market. 

Perhaps translating your books into other languages has never crossed your mind or maybe you just have no idea how to go about it. We’ve researched the process for you and looked into the viability of the foreign markets on offer so that you can take advantage of this opportunity without delay!

Amazon Targets the Foreign Ebook Market

Amazon, through its Kindle Direct Publication platform for ebooks and ACX platform for audiobooks, is still the biggest marketplace for digital content distribution in the world. If you are an author or content creator and you are not using this giant of ecommerce as your sales platform, it is time for you to get your Amazon on.  

Until now, Amazon has predominantly focused on the United States, the United Kingdom, and other major English-speaking countries where their advertising and marketing strategies are concerned. 

Its tools for authors have been similarly focused with several limitations being placed on the zone within which an author operates as well as the territory into which they wish to market. 

All that has just changed. Amazon has developed several tools and avenues and upgraded existing services in order to aid its users in taking advantage of the additional foreign  markets. 

What Has Changed?

Amazon has focused its international shift on empowering authors to market their own books into international markets. This not only gives you opportunity but significant control over how and where you market your book. 

The changes and additions to Amazon services and tools include:

  • Their self-service display ads, formerly only available to authors based in the United States and for use in US markets, are now open for use in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Canada, and Japan.
  • The Amazon Author Central pages, which host an author’s biography blurbs and other books and products, are now also available to be published in other languages and in the new territories. 
  • The algorithm that Amazon uses to track shoppers’ key interests and suggest similar products to shoppers will now be running in the languages of the new sales countries as well. 

This means that your book could be suggested to readers in other countries if they are already showing an interest in your subject matter and if your book matches their preferred language. The power of such an algorithm for a small business is immense and is essentially providing you with free marketing. 

What Potential Is There for Translated Books in Foreign Markets?

Amazon is a multi-billion dollar business and they do not take expansion decisions lightly. For them to have made this decision, there is no doubt that there is major current and future potential in these markets. While Amazon’s own product range is, of course, extremely diverse, your focus (and ours) is the sale of ebooks and audiobooks. So, what potential is there for you in these markets?

  • France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are the four biggest book markets in Europe. 
  • In 2017, ebooks accounted for one fifth of all book sales in Europe. While newer figures on this number are not immediately available, the growth rate in individual countries indicates that this number has risen significantly in the interim.
  • In Italy, 4.5 million people read ebooks every year. That’s 4.5 million additional potential readers in just one country. A single percentage of that number would make an enormous impact on your sales. 
  • In France, the ebook market has increased consistently by more than 50 percent year-on-year for the periods 2017, 2018, and 2019. A growing market needs additional fare from which to choose, otherwise it becomes stagnant. 
  • Germany is one of the most lucrative ebook markets in Europe with $27 million being spent on ebooks per year. With ebooks averaging at $6.00 each, that equates to an additional 4 million potential readers in Germany. 
  • Spain has the largest projected growth for the ebook market in 2020 with $9 million (1.5 million sales) having been spent on ebooks in this market in 2019. 

Current indications in the early days of foreign market sales through Amazon show that for an average publisher, the earning potential is approximately $4,000 per month in Germany and $2,000 per month in Spain.

Why Is There a Gap in Global eBook Markets?

The US and UK are historically early adopters of new technology; while Europe and the rest of the world may well have access to such technology, the average person on the street in these regions is generally slower to adopt new trends. This is often due to a preference in remaining loyal to tradition and holding onto historically popular methods of doing things. 

The popularity of ebooks is also impacted in various regions by the disposable income available to certain age groups. In general, the countries that have shown a higher rate of adoption to ebook readers also have a larger availability of disposable income in younger age groups. Such younger age groups are also more likely to purchase ebooks. 

This is perhaps the reason that Europe has been slower to embrace the ebook and audiobook market. The data suggests that this historical outlook is changing though, and the potential in these markets is clearly already huge and growing exponentially. 

How to Sell Your Books In Foreign Markets

The first and most important step, if you have a book written in English, is to have it translated into the languages of the new markets you want to target. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. If you have a new book idea, get that book ghostwritten in English and then translated into the languages of the markets you are targeting in one order 

  2. Alternatively, if you have an existing book in English, it is possible to have that translated into the languages of your target market as well. Discuss this possibility with the company you choose to carry out your translation service. 

Professional translation packages should include a writer with translation skills in the chosen language as well as an editor and proofreader. Your book should also be formatted in a KDP-compliant manner as part of the package. In order to help you take advantage of these new markets, The Urban Writers has four new translation services: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

If your budget is tight and you are not able to afford all translation orders at once, choose the market/s you feel that you will have the greatest success in and start there. 

Once you feel that you have made good headway in one market, you can move into another with the knowledge you have gained from the first foray. You may also find that some of your new readers cross language markets as well.

Which Country First?

In order to determine which foreign market would likely be most profitable for you, you will need to do some market research into the popularity of your topic in the chosen foreign country. 

In France, for instance, the most popular book topics are lifestyle and DIY topics, and books about leisure activities. In Germany, by contrast, fiction books are the most popular with self-help books only coming in as the third best seller. 

Italy has an equal penchant for fiction and nonfiction with the former being more in the young adult arena and the latter nonspecific in its popularity. The Spanish market has an affinity for historical novels in both the fiction and nonfiction arenas. 

When considering these country-specific preferences for genre, it is important to keep in mind that purchasing will be directly impacted by availability. So, if Spanish writers, for instance are flooding the market with historical novels, then the market is likely to consume those books. The introduction of a wider choice will have an interesting impact on these statistics. 

You could also take your existing network into account when deciding on the countries you would like to target. Check your LinkedIn connections list. You may be surprised by how many foreign-based contacts you have that you could leverage in marketing your book. 

Tools for Selling Into Foreign Markets

Now that you have your professionally translated book, how do you reach readers in those countries? Many of the same marketing techniques that you have used to succeed in English-speaking markets will be as useful in foreign markets. They will require a slight adjustment with the language of communication being the most important factor. 

Here are our top three tips for breaking into foreign markets with your translated book:

  1. Use Amazon’s tools: the self-service international ad product and international Author Central pages are powerful tools to establish your brand internationally.

Of course, you will want to limit your admin in advertising in various markets and the good news is that Amazon’s tools translate directly, so if you update your Author page in the US, it automatically updates it for other countries as well.  

  1. Change your book cover for the market. Images and fonts are very much culture-specific so what compels readers to buy in one country might deter them in another. Your ghostwriting company should offer this as a service, and the book cover creator should have a good understanding of what works in different countries. 

Do not make generalized assumptions about what a market wants based on your perception of a country or its people. Always consult an expert when changing your book cover or base your decisions on solid research. 

  1. Connect with international Amazon reviewers in order to build up your base of reviews for your translated book and establish a fanbase in other countries. 

Reviews are vital on Amazon as, especially if you are a first time author, this is one of the major reasons that readers may decide to purchase your book. In foreign markets, you need to build a name for yourself through reviews.  

Another tool for reaching beyond borders is having your book reviewed or being interviewed on a podcast or YouTube channel. Podcasts and YouTube channels serve a global audience and the analytics that they have access to will tell you exactly where their audience is from a geographical perspective. 

Connect with a few podcasters or YouTubers who focus on similar subject matter to you and put out the call for content creators with audiences in your chosen country. Podcasters and YouTubers are always looking for guests to interview and will likely be more than happy to bring you on their show to talk about your book if it fits their niche. 

Whenever you partner with another content creator, be sure to check that the partnership upgrades your brand and doesn’t negatively impact it. Do some research into the podcast or YouTube channel before you even approach them and make sure that your values line-up so that partnership is symbiotic. 

Your Takeaway

Amazon’s foray into new foreign markets means that there is a knock-on effect of opportunity for authors who publish or sell through this platform. For example, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain are all growing their ebook markets exponentially right now, so there is no better time to get in and take advantage of a wider reader audience. 

You are a creator but you are also a business person, and any entrepreneur knows that a low capital investment with high projected returns is the equivalent of a very good business decision. Why closet your creation off into one little corner of the world when you can capture a global audience with very little additional effort? 

Thanks to the availability of professional translation services (like what we offer here at The Urban Writers) you don’t even need to speak a word of any other language to be able to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Simply get your English book translated and use the tools available to you to make the most of your new target audiences. Get ready to say: “Bonjour, Hallo, Hola, and Ciao!” to your new readers. 


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