It's hard to market a book in English … but it is incredibly hard to market a book in a language not your own! This is the main struggle that authors face when self-publishing in translation.
But slowly, there are services appearing that tackle this problem head-on and will become increasingly important as the global, digital market expands.
Last week, I used Ebrolis to advertise a free promo on Profanación (Desecration in Spanish) as our main focus is getting more reviews on the book. During the promotion and after the Ebrolis email, it was downloaded 361 times (amazon.es – 231, amazon.com – 105, amazon.com.mx – 17).
These numbers are tiny when compared to the potential of a free promo in English, BUT it's just a start. These are the kind of figures that indies were looking at back in 2008/2009 in the US and things have definitely changed 🙂
The global market for ebook sales is only minute one, day one for most other countries outside of US, UK, Canada and Australia, so there are some incredibly exciting times ahead … if you have the patience to wait! You can find more info here on my own experience of self-publishing in translation.
In this interview, Cristian Perfumo from Ebrolis answers a few questions about the Spanish language market.
Ebrolis intends to be BookBub, but in Spanish. We only send an email a week at the moment on Thursdays, but will increase the frequency soon. Our list is at around 16,000 subscribers for Spanish language books, growing at approximately 120 a day.
What does the current market for ebooks in Spanish look like?
It’s growing fast, but it’s still way behind when compared to the English market. I believe we are two to three years behind, so think of what was going on in 2013 in the English Speaking world and you get the idea (fun fact that corroborates this: Bookbub was created about 3 years before Ebrolis!). So, we’re behind but the growth is huge. We have to consider that physical books are VERY expensive in Latin America, which means that voracious readers are super keen to cheaper alternatives, such as ebooks.
At the moment, 50% of Spanish ebooks are sold in Spain (but I suspect that number will decrease over time). In terms of online stores, Amazon is the leader, Google Play is second and iBooks is third according to our database (about 16,000 subscribers). Everyone else is way behind.
What genres sell best in Spanish?
From our database, I can tell you that Thrillers, Action/Adventure, Mystery and Romance are the best selling genres. Erotica sells very well too.
If authors are getting translations done, what kind of Spanish is the best and what's the difference between Spanish in Spain, in North America and in Latin American countries?
The Spanish language varies quite a bit from country to country, and amongst non-Spanish speakers there is the misconception that there is Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Latin America. That’s not true: the difference between the way a Mexican person and an Argentinian person speak is as big as the difference between any of them and a Spanish person.
Having said that, when it comes to books, we find that Latin American people are way more tolerant to books written/translated by someone from Spain than the other way around. In fact, Spanish people can be so sensitive to this that it is not uncommon to find negative Amazon reviews that say “the translation is terrible”, when in fact the book is not a translation, but the original written by a Latin American author!
I believe that the cause of all of this is just a matter of being used to the dialect. Latin american people are more used to Spanish from Spain than the other way around when it comes to books (funnily enough, this is not the case for movies!).
So, I suppose this is a very long way of saying that, if you are going to get your book translated, overall it will probably be better received if it’s done by a Spanish person. However, this is true of the current market. As the number of ereaders grows in Latin America, this might change.
Is there a difference in the covers that readers like in Spanish speaking countries?
I don’t think there is. And that is a massive advantage for English-speaking authors getting their books translated. The indie publishing world in Spanish can still be a bit amateurish when it comes to covers, although that’s changing rapidly (it’s 2013, remember?). So, if you have a professionally-designed cover for your English book, all you have to do is change the text for the translated version and you will be ahead of many Spanish-speaking authors.
Has self-publishing taken off in Spanish speaking countries? How do you see that emerging?
Yes, and it is growing incredibly fast. We see more and more authors putting out books regularly, with professional covers and well edited. Also, Amazon has been organizing their literary award for indie writers for two years now. The winner gets their book traditionally published (!), translated into English and made into an audiobook. Having said that, the absolutely best selling indie authors actively reject trad deals and are quite open about it.
What are your tips for marketing to Spanish speaking readers?
Well, English-speaking authors are going to find that, most likely, they have no platform. My suggestion is that if you spent the money to get your book translated, you can spend a tiny bit more and have the translator write a CTA at the end of your book and create a sign-up form for an email list in Spanish (which you can quite easily do with Mailchimp, for example). Then, once in a while, you can write an email, have it translated and send it to your Spanish readers.
As we all know, building a platform takes time. So to get that ball rolling, using services like ours is going to be crucial. As an example of what these services can achieve, last week we promoted ARENA UNO, the translation of one of Morgan Rice's books (permafree), and saw it rise from #1263 to #14 on Amazon Spain.
Just a word of warning: don’t expect Bookbub-level results just yet. We have around 12000 subscribers. We’re much more affordable though 🙂
Where can people find you and your site online?
Our website is www.ebrolis.com, but obviously that’s all in Spanish. However, there is a section in English where English-speaking authors can submit their books: www.ebrolis.com/authors. Also, anyone can drop me an email at cristian [at] ebrolis.com