Found Money

It’s funny: I can be having the crappiest day imaginable—I’m talking about my-dog-died-the-rent’s-late-and-my-girlfriend-is-sleeping-with-my-brother kind of day—yet if I’m walking down the street in the rain without an umbrella and happen to find a crumpled, soggy dollar bill on the glass-covered sidewalk, my mood instantly brightens. In the grand scheme of things, a dollar shouldn’t make much difference to me, but there’s something in my DNA that makes finding money a special event. As if the gods reached down from the heavens above and deemed me worthy of good fortune.

Now imagine that dollar bill is a ten. Or a twenty. Or even a hundred. Man oh man, if I found a hundred dollars on the street, I’d probably pull a Gene Kelly and start singin’ in the rain. Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising since Gene Kelly is a University of Pittsburgh graduate, just like I am. But I digress….

Random-House-bertelsmann (400x400)
So, what does my love of found money have to do with writing? Well, that’s the same feeling I get when my agent lets me know a foreign publisher has offered to publish one of my books. Only the money I’m talking about is a LOT more than a hundred dollars. And instead of finding it on the street, I find it in my inbox.

Confused? Let me explain….

My main agent is
Scott Miller at Trident Media. He handles all the big stuff in my writing career. But he doesn’t work alone. Trident also has a foreign rights department, which is in charge of sending my books to publishers around the world. My main contact is Claire Roberts, the managing director of foreign rights at Trident. But she doesn’t work alone, either. Because of language barriers, Trident has multiple foreign agents. They also work with sub-agents around the globe who are experts on their specific markets. That means when we try to sell a book to a publisher in—let’s say—Thailand, the process is rather complicated. I send the manuscript to Scott, who sends it to Claire, who sends it to the agent in charge of Asia, who sends it to a sub-agent in Thailand, who sends it to publishers in Bangkok. If a Thai publisher likes the book, an offer is negotiated, and the terms of the deal slowly make its way back to me through a long chain of forwarded emails and eventually stops in my inbox. Then I get to decide if I want to accept the deal or not.

But here’s the thing: I have no idea what the book market is like in Thailand, so I rely on the advice of my agents. And if anyone in the process (the sub-agent, the foreign agent, Claire, or Scott) doesn’t like the deal, then they don’t pass it along. That means when I actually get one of these deals in my inbox, I always accept. And I mean,
always. Which is why I compare it to found money.

Hello, Thailand. Nice to meet you. I will happily cash your check!

My latest offer is from
Blanvalet, one of the main fiction imprints of Random House Germany. They recently acquired the German rights to the The Hunters and The Forbidden Tomb. This offer is extra special because some markets are more generous than others. For example, Slovenia doesn’t pay as much as Spain. And Afghanistan doesn’t pay as much as Australia. But Germany is top notch. They have millions of passionate readers who love thrillers, so this is a great fit for my books.

Early in my career, Sign of the Cross was published in Germany, and it quickly became a bestseller. Ten years later, I still get royalty checks from that deal. And when those checks arrive, guess what? I view them as found money, too!!!