cabecera awards libro rojo

Facebook Twitter

Delicious Foreign Rights

Small streams make big rivers

Why foreign rights?

  • For a publisher, foreign rights can make the difference between profits and losses on a book.
  • For an author, foreign rights can represent more than income from sales in his own country.
  • It is easier to receive 1000 Euros net in one very small foreign rights deal than selling 500 cookbooks at a book fair, which is what an author needs to sign and sell to make the same amount on the average cookbook.
  • There is little investment; it is mostly time and travel.

Who sells?

  • Nearly all publishers now have a foreign rights department. They are the key to negotiate and sign the contracts. It is best for authors to let publishers negotiate.
  • When there is an agent, they often take a leading role in the negotiations, and they usually earn more for their client than the 15% they charge.
  • The authors very often initiate the contact with the foreign buyer. They know their book well. They can market it better than the foreign rights department who very often does not have the time to open the books.
  • A good author for a publisher is one that not only writes good books, but one that will easily promote himself the book, and sell foreign rights himself.

Who buys?

  • English speaking markets are more sellers than buyers. It is extremely difficult to sell to the US.
  • The buyers are now in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. There are many small deals, rather than the one big deal. For Paris Cookbook Fair in March 2011, 13% of professionals registered on January 25th come from Asia, 10% from Eastern Europe and 7% from Latin America.
  • Foreign rights is a long term business, with many deals between partners who trust each other.
  • It is a much more personal business that it would seem. Sending a book by mail is not the same as meeting the buyer.

Who owns the foreign rights?

  • The majority of contracts in the English speaking world is a balanced split of 50/50 between authors and publishers.
  • In France it is often lower for the author, from 25 to 40%; in Spain it is higher, 60% for the author.

How do you calculate how much?

  • There is usually an advance, calculated as a percentage of royalties. It is wise to think all you can count upon is the advance.
  • Calculating the advance is easy. You need:
    • The retail price of your book in the market in the contract.
    • The number of copies of the first printing.
    • The royalty.
    • The percentage of the advance, usually 60% of the royalty.
  • So a book with a printing of 3000 selling at 20 Dollars in the foreign market, with a royalty of 10%, will net to the author and publisher 3.600 Dollars if the advance is 60%. Then it is split between publisher and author.

Happy stories?

  • Some publishers buy many rights. They often do their shopping at Paris Cookbook Fair or on the Gourmand stands at Frankfurt and London Fairs. They will look at all exhibition books one by one to find authors and translations. Other buyers wait for the books to come to them, or at the Gourmand Awards lists.
  • Paris Cookbook Fair is the key for small publishers. More than fifty percent of publishers in Paris do not have stands at Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2010,White Tara found translations in 4 languages for their Cambodian book “Au Pays de la Pomme Cythère”, Féret sold wine books to China, Chakall found deals for books in Germany, Spain, etc. We believe more than 200 deals were initiated last year at Paris Cookbook Fair 2010.

Seller beware!

  • The Royalties are very often “lost in translation” in foreign rights deals. Following up is much work and rarely worth it.
  • First story.- A bestselling author complained and did receive five times his advance in unpaid royalties after much expense in audits, time and lawyers. The big publisher paid, but cancelled future books from this author, after paying him over years over 200.000 Euros. It was very difficult for him to find another publisher.
  • Second story.- A wonderful author from Europe was so happy selling 100.000 cookbooks in the US. Unfortunately his publisher had sold the rights for this book for one dollar. The buyer was a US corporation his European publisher controlled.
  • The unending story.- There are countless examples of books published in another language with the authors not being told about it. It happens to the biggest authors, with the biggest publishers, in the top market. So it may happen even more with smaller authors and markets. Internet is very useful. The same is true, by the way, for paperback deals.


  • Foreign rights have always been a major activity at big publishers for big fiction books. Now it is becoming a key to the business of smaller publishers and authors. The growth of the cookbook sector leads to a fragmentation of the markets, with the foreign rights becoming a fundamental business.
  • The movement is led by the authors and small publishers. The big publishers are slow to build on the possible economies of scale and synergies in their different cookbook imprints. If you have published a cookbook in one country, reality today is that there are several countries around the World where your book should and can be sold, in the original language, or through translation. In nearly all cases it will be small deals, but you cannot ignore the total income it will generate.

The Gourmand Awards in Macao - Registration & Facts


Download PDF

logo awards


The Gourmand Awards are the major Food Culture event in the world.

They started in 1995 for cookbooks and wine books, at Frankfurt Book Fair. They now include all Food Culture content. The Gourmand Awards are open to all, big or small, print or digital, for sale or for free, with or without ISBN, trade or self published, private or public, in any language. It is free to participate, anyone can send entries. There is no comparable international cultural event in the world, except the Olympics. We are inspired by the Olympic spirit.

1- The countries

This year we had entries from 215 countries and regions. There are 193 countries in the United Nations. For the Finalists, we have considerably reduced from the entries the number of countries, and entries. There are now Finalists for Food from a total of 134 countries (116 UN members) and regions. There are 40 countries and regions for Drinks.

2- Categories

There are 100 categories for Food, 30 for Drinks. This is necessary to reflect the wide diversity of world food culture. It gives a chance to many countries to win in a category. In the Olympic games, they have 303 competitions/categories for 202 countries. On our list our finalists, we have 130 categories for 134 countries and regions. In total, there are 1372 entries now finalist, 1144 for food, and 228 for drinks. This represents less than 3% of the total of similar books and other formats published and available every year. It is a major achievement to be on this list of Finalists. There are 67% of the categories with 12 or less finalists, 26% with 13 to 19 finalists, and 7% with 20 to 30 finalists.

3- Trends

Food Culture is now taken very seriously by most governments and individuals. Food is at the heart of the issues of our future, collectively and individually.Trends in Food and Drinks culture are now global, everywhere in the world, which this list of finalists makes very clear. We see six major trends, combining or competing at a different pace in different countries, with change accelerating:

  • Tourism is becoming the force driving food culture. Food is the first positive criteria and motivation generally, for 35%, up from 25% fifteen years ago. We have 160 entries for tourism (12%). See our categories B15, B17, B21, W1-8, W1-12.
  • Social media and television continue to expand the food culture market, helping print. See our categories A07, A08, A09, A13, B18, B19.
  • Health and Nutrition have joined with Ethics and Environmental concerns, spreading the same issues worldwide. For instance Vegan has become mainstream in very few years, everywhere. See our categories D01, D02, D08, D09, E06, E13.
  • Local has become the key word. There is a major effort everywhere to save local food culture, and transmit it. It is helped by tourism and the locavore trends. Slow Food has won. See our categories C01, D05, D07.
  • Quick and easy comfort food is still very important, especially in Asia. See our category E01. In 1995, when we started, this was the leading category.
  • Children and Family food books are rapidly expanding. See categories D03, D11.
  • There are minor new trends starting now Sports and Food, see D13.
  • Seniors and food, see D12 Breakfast, see E15.
  • Embassies and Gastro Diplomacy, see F08.

4- Digital

We have 19 categories (15%) exclusively for digital, with 195 digital entries now finalists (15%). You can find in the list of Finalists approximately 50 free Food and Wine PDF to download, selected for their quality, nearly all produced by public institutions. Unfortunately, they tend to disappear quickly, so do not be surprised if you cannot find them. We cannot help. See categories A06 for FAO, UN-IOM, UNDEP-Canada, UNESCO, UNWTO or B17, W1-12. For cookbook professional online newsletters, see B03.

5- The next step

The Best in the World will be announced in Yantai, China at the Gourmand Awards annual event May 25-28, 2018. The top 3 in each category will have the right to Best in the World. We do not announce results before the event. It is not necessary to attend to win. Apart from the honors at the event, the major opportunity is meeting the other participants, for business and pleasure. As previous participants have written, it may be the best four days of your life if you participate. Guests from over 60 countries had already indicated they wanted to come as of January 12, 2018. There are among them 81 guests who have already been at our events in Yantai. They come back even if they have no entry in the competition, it is so important for networking, business, and food culture.