Authors Need to Know Their Rights

When it comes to working in the rights and licensing field it’s not uncommon to be bombarded with questions, especially from indie and self-published authors. In fairness these haven’t always been the simplest of areas to get to grips with and, whilst this is undoubtedly improving, there remains a worrying lack of understanding surrounding the importance of various books rights and licensing. Especially when it comes to markets overseas.

Of course authors want to create the best work possible. And the vast majority want to sell as many copies of their work as possible. Then why is it that so many indie/self-published authors still dedicate 90% of their efforts to the writing and only 10% to the rights/licensing/marketing/promoting/selling? Not all authors’ prime motivation is sales but imagine the pride in seeing their book on bookshelves around the world in a host of different languages – no matter what level of riches this might also offer.

The international market remains an impossible dream for many authors but the reality is that it really doesn’t have to be. I’m not saying it’s easy to break into any old territory because it isn’t. However, advances in technology and a range of communication tools have made them far more accessible for savvy, business-minded authors. And there are a number of available routes. Authors could engage a rights-agent. They could embark upon building a network of contacts themselves and market their book directly to potential publishing partners across a number of territories. Or they could utilise a global platform such as IPR License to showcase their work on a global scale.

Translations are also a good potential route. I now hark back to my earlier comment about fielding questions and one of the most interesting ones lately has been regarding proactive translations from a particularly rights savvy self-published author.

Now the first thing to say is that it’s great to see authors embracing the potential of international rights and licensing, but it’s also prudent to always tread a little carefully when targeting any new market or initiative.

In terms of translations my advice would first be to source an interested and respected publisher in the territory of choice – by any or all of the methods mentioned – and work with them throughout the translation process. Generally speaking a publisher will work with a trusted translator so may be privy to better rates and know the quality of their work. Grants may also be available within some territories which publishers know about and can take advantage of. So, generally speaking, getting work translated with a view to licensing is, more often than not, a waste of time and money without an agreement or offer firmly in place.

It is important to underline that foreign translation rights remain a highly rewarding aspect of the publishing process when done in an effective manner. They create valuable additional revenue streams for publishers and authors and certainly shouldn’t be dismissed. But, as with anything rights or licensing related, publishers and authors need to make sure they do their homework and work with a trusted and knowledgeable partner to get the best result possible when exploring any international marketplace.

Tom Chalmers is Managing Director of IPR License – www.iprlicense.com

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TomChalmers

TomChalmers

Tom Chalmers set-up Legend Press in 2005, a book publisher focused predominantly on mainstream literary and commercial fiction, as well as publishing a small number of non-fiction titles. Chalmers has been shortlisted for UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year, UK Young Publisher of the Year, UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur of the Year, and longlisted for the Enterprising Young Brit Awards. In 2008, Chalmers acquired a further publishing company, Paperbooks Publishing, run from the same office, and at the start of 2010 launched Legend Business, a business book imprint. Legend Press has also launched successful self-publishing and writer workshops ventures, now separate companies New Generation Publishing and Write-Connections respectively. In 2011, Legend Press was shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year. In 2012, he launched new venture IPR License, the first global and digital a platform on which to list and license literary rights. Chalmers also speaks regularly on publishing and business and is an Enterprise Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.

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