5 Tips for Self-Publishers in International Markets

Self-publishing can be a complex matter. In order to get the most out of your book, you should consider international markets. You will gain a wider audience and increase opportunities to generate revenue. But just as it takes effort and time to market your book in your home country, it will be even more complex to target foreign audiences. The payoff, though, can be good, if you do it right.

international markets

Here are some tips for marketing your work to an international audience.

1. Identify the Right Markets

This will take some common sense and some research. If you have already followers or a fan base in foreign markets, you will be able to tap into that market with any new book(s) you want to publish.

There may be a need among consumers in countries you have not yet tapped into. You will need to do some research. Conducting generic searches in local search engines should give you some idea of the popularity of your topic and the type of competition you may face in a market. Check out your competition in these foreign markets. Do a search through local search engines and find out what publications are already being sold in your niche and how popular they have been.

If this is your first venture in international markets, learn which genres sell the best in each country.  Earlier this year Publish Drive revealed the results of a data science analysis on ebooks sales in 22 countries. See which countries are buying up the genres you’re writing in Popular Ebook Genres by Country.

Another option is to find a local “partner” who will be able to search the market and advise you on the viability of your book, and the size of the demographics that will have the greatest interest.

2. Translation and Localization

Once you have identified current and new markets, you are ready for your translations.

If you have sold books to foreign audiences in the past, you know the drill. It is not just a matter of having an accurate translation. There are cultural aspects to be considered both in vocabulary and in any images or visuals you may have used.

If you have never sold books outside of your native language, then you will be seeking a reputable translator who is native to the target country and language. Using a translation service is usually the best route, because their staff have been vetted and are experienced. You can check out the top-rated agencies through Pick Writers translation reviews. There you will be able to read full summaries and see customer ratings of various translation services. You will want a translator who can also advise you on those visuals and any vocabulary or phraseology that natives might find offensive.

You will also want your marketing materials translated and localized, as well as any other content you may be posting, on social media sites for example.

3. Finding Retailers and Distributors in Foreign Markets

You have two options for selling your book overseas:

  • You can license your rights to traditional publishers that are located in each country. If you go this route, you will want to research what this means in each country. PubMatch is a good source of information if you should choose this route.
  • Sell your book directly, through online retailers or through local distributors. This option is the most popular, for obvious reasons.

While Amazon is certainly global, and you will want your book available there, it does not dominate every market. It will be up to you to find the most popular book retailers and distributors in each target country. It should also be noted that some “big boys,” like Apple and Kobo, are also pushing into bookselling in foreign markets. To learn more about that,  check out this is Guide to Selling on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Your best bet would actually be to leave it to aggregators, so here’s Everything You Need to Know About Aggregators.

4. Pricing and Promoting Abroad

Marketing and promoting a book abroad is a challenge.

And one critical aspect is pricing. There actually is a pricing guide, called the Big Mac Index, a chart that compares the prices of Big Macs throughout the world. Using this index, other businesses that sell products overseas can determine appropriate pricing. An e-book that might sell for $10.00 in the U.S., for example, should be priced at $7.50, $5.00, and $3.50 in the Czech Republic, Indonesia, and India respectively.

While you may have to grit your teeth, providing an e-book for free initially may pay off down the road. Eventually, as popularity grows, you can then begin to charge, gradually increasing the price as popularity grows. And if you plan to offer a series of e-books, you can offer the first one free and then charge the “going rate” for your subsequent books. Keep in mind that there are Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Ebook so be sure to read them through.

5. Consider a Series Rather Than a Single Book

Especially if you have written an e-book, which is by its nature short, creating more on the same or related topics will not be like writing a series of novels. As you gain a reputation for quality work, your subsequent books will sell even better. For more on how to make money with your ebook series, you can check out How to Drive Sales of Your Book Series.


Getting established in foreign markets is challenging for any business with products and services to sell. The nice thing about ebooks, however, is that they are provided digitally, can be reasonably priced, and do not involve shipping costs. These five tips should give you a good starting point for moving into international markets. If you do the right research to determine the best markets; if you have patience while you work on promotion, then you have the potential for overseas markets to be great “money makers.”

Read these posts.

The Basic Guide to Self-Publishing Books

Sell Books on WordPress with the WooCommerce Plugin

Why and How to Convert Your Book to an Audiobook


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