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How to attract and connect with international rights buyers

Gone are the days when entering a new territory would mean a publisher having to set up an office and staff there, or a perspective author having to up sticks and set sail around the world in search of new book deals.

The potential of the international rights and licensing market is, quite naturally, an attractive one for publishers of all sizes. However, historically at least, the barriers to new markets have been notoriously daunting, difficult and time consuming to overcome. Thankfully, times are changing and with the right support these obstacles are not as onerous or costly as they used to be.

There are now a variety of mediums to help even the most far flung publishers tap into the world of book rights and attract the attention of international rights buyers. Now in truth this still doesn’t make it easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.

So let’s look at some of the available options.

A strong contact book and existing personal relationships will always be hard to beat but the inevitable fact of life is that people move, trends emerge (and dissipate) and new publishers constantly arrive in the industry.

Book fairs provide a great option for promoting, and selling, key titles on an international scale, not to mention maintaining existing and generating new relationships. The upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair is a prime example. This remains the largest and most important one-off rights and licensing event in the publishing calendar and will result in numerous high, and low, profile rights and licensing deals being completed.

There are of course a variety of fairs and events which take place all year round covering many territories. But for publishers with limited resources it’s virtually impossible to have a presence at all, if any, of these. And this word ‘virtually’ is one which can certainly help to fill in any of these gaps in the calendar to attract and connect with a variety of rights buyers on an international scale.

Advances in technology continue to open up more avenues for rights sellers to showcase their key titles to the correct audience, and for rights buyers to acquire them. For example, the rise of the fully transactional online marketplace has resulted in simpler and more efficient access to new markets and the completion of rights and licensing business 24/7 365 days a year, not just over the course of a book fair.

Technology will continue to prove itself to be the key component in pushing the publishing industry forward. Although it will never replace people or personal relationships it can certainly help enhance contact books, support the transactional process, increase efficiency, help maximise revenue streams and open the doors to greater numbers of international rights buyers and sellers.

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Tom Chalmers

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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