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The Next Self-Publishing Frontier: E-Books In Translation

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Romance author Barbara Freethy has seen huge success making her out-of-print titles available as self-published e-books. She’s now sold 1.6 million copies total and is taking an unusual step: Self-publishing foreign-language editions of those e-books.

Last year I wrote about Freethy’s strategy of selling her out-of-print titles as inexpensive e-books in order to draw attention to her new titles published by Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS). She created recognizable covers for her brand and ran Twitter and Facebook campaigns designed to drive the books up the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Nook bestseller lists.

These strategies worked. Freethy’s The Sweetest Thing, which costs $2.99 and was originally published by Avon in 1999, is now #35 on the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) combined print + e-book bestseller list and #22 on the e-book-only list.

The 1.6 million self-published e-books Freethy has sold is across 18 titles — 17 backlist and one new e-book original, A Secret Wish, which she told me has sold 73,616 copies in three months. Freethy’s titles are available in several e-bookstores but she said she sells the most titles through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Now Freethy is creating her own foreign-language editions. “I’ve translated three titles into foreign languages,” she told me. “Don’t Say A Word has a German edition (Sag kein Wort), Daniel’s Gift has a Spanish edition (El Regalo de Daniel) and Just The Way You Are has a French edition (Exactement Comme Tu Es). They are for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) and *Apple*.

“I hired a translator and a separate proofer to proof the translation for each book. In some instances I used a second proofer as well to make sure the translation was as accurate as it could possibly be. I went through for a couple of the translators and another was referred by an author to me. It’s a complicated process, but I do believe the global market is going to grow and I would love to make my stories available around the world in as many languages as possible.”

For some titles, she is selling foreign rights to international publishers. “I recently sold seven titles to a Brazilian publisher, Novo Conceito Editora, for translation into Portuguese and print/ebook publication in Brazil,” she said.