About International Editions & Availability

Posted in ebooks, Essalieyan, grovelling apology, Queen of the Dead.

In the Touch thread, Hanneke asked a question which I’d like to answer here:

I’ve been looking for it on Kobo every few days, and it hasn’t shown up yet, two-and-a-half weeks after publication day. Should I practise my patience a bit longer, or is this long enough to guess that someone at the publisher forgot to tick the ‘available to buy in the rest of the world’-box at distribution, or forgot to send it to Kobo, and send them an e-mail?
If so, do you happen to have a name or an e-mail address for the publisher, where I could send my question?

The short answer is: No. If you picked up Silence from Kobo, and you do not live in North America, or have a North America-based account, it shouldn’t have happened, because I have World Rights to the titles in any other market. (This holds true for House War books as well).

The longer answer is: I’m very, very sorry =/. Because: I have World Rights and I have not yet made those books available in other markets. I am working very slowly through House War because someone asked me about the availability of Battle in the UK in ebook, and I was determined to have UK editions available for Oracle and subsequent books at the same time as the North American versions.

The reason it’s taking so long is I’ve had to extract text from the .pdfs, and then change spelling, etc. The spelling is actually easy. HOWEVER… the text extraction was not perhaps exact. Or close. So, many of the dialogue lines or the short lines were collapsed together in the extraction. It’s obvious when two short dialogue lines are missing a carriage return.

It is not obvious when those dialogue lines bracket a dialogue tag.


“See what?” Carver asked. “Something shiny.”

This looks – on scanning – correct. Unfortunately, it’s not. It should be:

“See what?” Carver asked.

“Something shiny.”

(The second speaker is Jewel). This means I am reading each of the first three books, page by page, looking for exactly this type of error. And sadly, there are a lot of them.

After House Name, I began to keep track of everything in one file. I transcribed all of the page proof corrections & the revisions & etc., in one place. So once I reach Skirmish, it becomes, in theory, much, much faster.

This is also true of Silence and Touch; I only need to do the formatting & ISBN assignments, and uploads, etc. Which doesn’t take zero time, but is not as time intensive.

But at the moment, I have revisions on Cast in Flame due at the end of the month, and of course, I’m trying to finish Oracle (it’s not finished yet), and Grave.

But: The lack of UK/International English editions is entirely my fault. I’ve changed my workflow so in future I should be much, much more efficient – but I am from the days of dinosaurs, and so much of my workflow is based on Other People publishing my books.


This is how the rights fall out for my various books.

The Sacred Hunt: (Hunter’s Oath, Hunter’s Death). DAW has World Rights. Anyone, anywhere, should be able to buy these in ebook format. If you can’t, let me know.

The Sun Sword: (Broken Crown, Uncrowned King, Shining Court, Sea of Sorrows, Riven Shield, Sun Sword). DAW has World Rights. Anyone, anywhere, should be able to buy these in ebook format. If you can’t, let me know.

The House War: (Hidden City, City of Night, House Name, Skirmish, Battle). DAW has North American rights. Anyone who is buying these books in the US/Canada should be able to buy the ebooks anywhere. I have World Rights. So far, I have formatted & corrected only Hidden City, and uploaded that to various sites. I haven’t uploaded to Kobo yet; I have to do the paperwork – w8bens, etc. I’m 3/4s of the way through City of Night, and that should be up in about two weeks. I will, come hell or high water, have Oracle done and ready at the same time as the NA version.

Queen of the Dead: (Silence, Touch, Grave) DAW has North American rights. Anyone who is buying these books in the US/Canada should be able to buy the ebooks anywhere. I have World Rights. I fully intend to have Grave up at the same time as the North American edition is available – but while I will make sure Silence and Touch do get out there, I’m behind on those. I have every intention of making them available – they’ll be the next thing I do, after the 5 House War books.

Cast: This is more complicated. Harlequin owns World Rights for all of these books. But each HLQ subsidiary is responsible for what is published in its own territory. If you cannot buy these books in, say, the UK or etc., I can’t actually do anything about that; it means the subsidiary in your territory hasn’t chosen to pick up the Cast novels.

29 Responses to About International Editions & Availability

  1. Joey says:

    Thanks for the explanation. It seems like a lot of burden on the author to know or have to learn about getting their novels ebook-ready. Hang in there!

    Also, will you be making public appearances this year?

  2. michelle says:

    I think that it’s workflow related. If you *know* that you’re going to be doing the conversion to ebooks, you start with a slightly different workflow; there are things you have to make time for, and steps you have to follow that weren’t, prior to self-publication, an issue.

    And, at least for me, there’s a process-learning curve. I’m sure that 5 books from now, it will seem ridiculously simple and I will wonder why it caused such angst. Cue hollow laughter.

    As for public appearances: I’ll be doing to Loncon3 – but I expect the panel load to be light there, because I really don’t have much presence in the UK. I am *almost* certain I’ll be heading out to World Fantasy (it’s in Washington), and if Confluence finds a hotel, I’ll be going to Confluence.

  3. michelle says:

    I now have the world’s most amazing ebook conversion software. It is the one thing that makes the process fun, and the output – in the opinion of people who handcode – is excellent and clean. And I love it, did I mention?

    At this point, it’s the proofing, the fixing all of the small mistakes the original text dump introduced. So – I’m doing the clean-up that she speaks of, and the proofing itself was done (the text is from production mass markets) for zero-level typos.

    It’s the type of error that I quoted above that is causing the need to do the line-by-line reading – and I have to say: I write long books.

    I would be able to do it in a week per book if I didn’t also have new books to write; as it is, because I’m not under contract for the books I am doing myself, it feels far less urgent than the new words, and it falls behind when I’m swamped.

    But the thing is: it does take time. I’m always surprised at how little time people claim it takes – but to be fair, they’ve started out this way, and this is what they know.

    I do have someone else doing covers, because I have no competence at all in that regard.

  4. Hanneke says:

    Thank you for your clear explanation and summary of what should be available where.
    I’m in Holland (Europe), and most USA/UK publishers’ contracts have a clause about them being able to sell their English editions ebooks non-exclusively in ‘the rest of the world’ (= the non-English-speaking countries, as far as I’ve been able to determine, but maybe sometimes including Australia and New Zealand). This means I can sometimes get a choice of the UK and USA editions, if those are separate; and it also means I’ve got used to being able to buy most English-language ebooks when they come out.
    So I bought Silence from Kobo without doubting their right to sell it to me, and was looking for Touch on the same principle.

    I’m sorry for unwittingly buying an illegal copy of your book; but as it’s a sale through your regular publisher I do hope the accounting works the way it should and you get your usual percentage.

    I don’t know if you will be able to see the books I see, when I look for your name on Kobo, but in case you can I include the links here. For Michelle Sagara this is what I get:
    This shows the complete Cast series, mostly double (UK and USA edition, as well as German and French translations of some of them), the Darkness quartet, and the five non-SunSword short stories you published as ebooks yourself. They also show Silence as available, and today Touch has appeared as well, from publisher Penguin Group US, imprint DAW.

    If they don’t have the ‘non-exclusive rights to sell in the rest of the world’ this means DAW has to update that information to it’s distributors so they’ll stop selling it to us non-Americans.
    Maybe the best way to get that done is if your agent can take this up with them? She knows the exact wording of the contract and can hold them to it.

    This is the list for Michelle West:
    It shows the six self-published short stories in the Essalieyan universe, the two Sacred Hunt books, the Sun Sword books one to six, and the House War books one to five (publisher Penguin Group US, imprint DAW).
    From your listing, I understand that the House War books shouldn’t be available to me – sorry, I didn’t know that and have bought them all.

    I do read a bit of stress about the added workload of preparing your older books for international distribution in your post above, which brought me to the following thought.
    If you want to give your international fans a chance to buy it from your legal USA publisher until you have time to publish it yourself, you could wait a while before triggering that warning to the publisher through your agent, but I don’t know how that works out in the way of income and contract provisions… I just get the impression you’re really swamped with work and don’t need the extra hassle of preparing the older books for distribution anytime soon. And as long as they’re legally available somehow, and you are being paid for them, I don’t think think your fans will mind the details.
    I know nothing about the bookselling or publishing business, so maybe this is just a really stupid idea. But if it isn’t, and can relieve a bit of the stress and let you concentrate on your writing – that might help for the near future, just until you’re caught up with the backlog caused by Touch being such a bear to write?

    I really enjoy all your writing, and buy everything I can as soon as I can; but if those contracts mean I’ll have to wait a year or so longer I’ll just have to wait. The books will still give me as much pleasure to read, whenever I do get to read them.

  5. michelle says:

    I have never said a word about the availability of these books to people who are not in the US/Canada :). The primary reason for me to make these books available is so that people who do want them can buy them.

    I know a reader in the UK said they weren’t available to him (I think it was BATTLE); prior to that, I think people who were reading them ordered the hardcover/paperback.

    I *believe* the non-exclusive means that DAW can *ship* books to the UK retailers.

    I didn’t realize that the books *could* be picked up by Europeans. All of the short stories can be, because those are free and clear; the first two DAW series, as well.

    I can’t, however, go to Smashwords with any of the novels, because Smashwords has no granularity: everything they maintain has to have world rights.

  6. Chris Chen says:

    You’re going to LonCon3! Eeee! What is your policy on book signing? I know LonCon3 will have a time/ place for signings, but will you be participating? What is your policy on signings?

  7. michelle says:

    I hope to be participating :). I don’t have a lot available in the UK, so I wouldn’t be surprised to have a fairly light panel load. I’m pretty much happy to sign whatever people bring me, though.

  8. Tess3967@gmail.com says:

    I’ve always thought it a little weird that I can buy all the Cast books on Kindle through Amazon except “Cast in Chaos”? Of course the paperback is available through Amazon but there is no listing for the E-Book.
    I don’t mind how long I have to wait for the E-Book conversions. I am just so pleased they will be available in Australia. Thank you very much for all your work. Cheers…

  9. Tyronne says:

    Just so you know, Touch was available for Kobo download today. I just purchased it and am looking forward to reading it!

  10. Hanneke says:

    A) You’re welcome!

    B) The trouble with the non-exclusive right to distribute to ‘the rest of the world’ is that it very often (almost always?) explicitly excludes the UK, in the hope or expectation of selling it to a UK publisher separately; and fairly often but not always Australia and New Zealand too. I think Canada is mostly lumped in with the USA rights.
    So leaving DAW to distribute to ‘the rest of the world’ will not help your UK fans, and maybe not the Australians – they are still dependent on your worldwide publishing rights.

    C) I’m not a lawyer or any kind of professional in the book-business, but I was interested in anything that could impact the availability of my beloved books when I started my ereader, and this is what I’ve learned over the last couple of years. As far as I can figure out, the ‘non-exclusive rest of the world’ clause wasn’t necessary for buying paper books, as for those, the point of sale was the address of the publisher of distribution center from which those books are ordered. I’ve always been able to buy any paper edition I wanted (and could afford), from the USA or UK, through my Dutch bookstore, without the restrictions that are placed on electronic editions. For those the law has chosen to use the definition as it was used for music and movies (where it was based on regional coding for movie-releases), instead of for paper book sales: the point of sale is the address of the buyer.
    This has necessitated the non-exclusive rest of the world clause, if most of the globe isn’t to be censored from buying English-language books for which no local publisher is willing or able to buy the local English-language publishing rights; and if the USA or UK publisher didn’t just get the world-wide distribution rights (which, because of separate UK and USA editions/publishers, is often not the case).

    I’ve not researched audiobooks (travel time in my tiny country is not such that I’d be able to listen to many books that way), so I don’t know how those rules work. I rather expect them to follow the same kind of rules as the ebooks, but maybe with more chance of an audiobook-publisher getting the worldwide distribution rights.
    Translation rights are of course a different and separate issue, and not relevant here.

  11. Sivi says:

    I’m glad I took a mo to read this post, I’m really excited that you’re coming to the UK and have been looking up details for Loncon3 as this forum is the first place that I’ve heard of it! (I have a tendency to miss conventions at home (UK) as I don’t tend to keep my ear to the internet grape vine that much :) I’m sure that there will be a lot of UK fans there too :)

  12. Hah, my original Hunter’s Oath, originally bought at Forbidden Planet in Tottenham Court Road on one of my yearly book buying trips at the time, I believe. I’m not bringing the Jody Lee hardcovers, though I do love them and buy them even without reading them (that’s what the ebooks and larger font size are for). I do like the embossing DAW still does and the shiny/matte bits – and of course her art.

  13. Deirdre Roeser says:

    I do not understand the publishing industry at all – but appreciate your taking time to explain some of your problems. I love the Cast series but have not yet read a lot of your other books. Something I am going to correct. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for writing. It helps me escape into an alternate universe for a while.

  14. Shaley says:

    I have been doing my own ebooks for a while, and extrating them from pdf too.
    What do you use if I may ask..?

  15. I basically cut and paste the text, and then delete all the page marks & etc.; I have to read through the entire thing, because at least in the case of *these* files, while the content is the actual printed page content, the paragraph breaks are disastrous. Which is pretty much like reading page proofs all over again, and takes time.

    But…I’m now using vellum (from http://180g.org) for the actual epub/kindle formatting – and I love that like a crazy person; I personally find it *fun* to use.

    So the conversion is entirely – at this point – the text itself and cleaning it up, rather than the .html or CSS.

  16. Shaley says:

    It should be easier to either extract the tx from the pdf with adobe or scan the books, it will save times and the results are better

  17. Sivi Sivanesan says:

    hi, I was wondering if you knew what day you’dbe attending loncon3? I think I’ll only be able to go on one day, so want to make sure its the day you’ll be signing :)

  18. I will be attending for the full convention – but this far out, no one actually has their schedule yet, so I don’t know when (if) I’ll be scheduled to do a signing. On the other hand, I am happy to meet up & sign books for you on whichever day you can attend :)

  19. I just wanted to say that I send a query about this, but haven’t heard back yet – I know the book is available in North America, because that’s what I automatically see – but I’m assuming it’s not available in Australia (Amazon will list paper books because they can ship them anywhere, but the ebook availability is based on the territory >.<)

  20. Sivi Sivanesan says:

    Thank you :) -I’ll be good and not turn up with all of my Cast books ;) , I’m just having to wait until the end of March to see if the charity I work for are running an event that weekend. If we aren’t, I hope to be at Loncon on the Sunday, if we are, I should be able to make the Monday. I’ll let you know plus keep an eye on your posts for when you have schedules for the event.
    Thank you again.

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