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10 Things You Need to Know About Selling Rights

By Vinutha Mallya

Lynette Owen of Pearson Education speaks in Frankfurt about best practices for selling rights

You made the journey to the biggest book fair, and now you’re wondering how to make the most of it. An intensive “Rights Express” seminar on Wednesday by the legendary Lynette Owen, Copyright Director at Pearson Education presented practical advice on how to sell rights successfully.

Here’s Owen’s wisdom, expressly condensed into 10 points:

1. You can sell not only book publication rights but other rights too, for example: rights for co-editions, book club rights; condensation rights; audiobook rights, e-books and digital downloads; TV and film rights; and merchandising rights.

2. Research the market climate and potential partners, and imagine the rights potential for each title.

3. Set up a database to record details of your titles, submissions and sales, and details about your publishing partners. The database should help you keep track of submissions and negotiations. A well-designed system will enable quick decision-making.

4. Strategize your sales efforts. Identify priority markets and key titles to sell.

5. Meet your potential publishing partners at book fairs. Fix appointments in advance, by contacting the editor directly. Come prepared with rights guides and information sheets. Be clear on the rights that you will offer. Record your meeting in the form of notes.

6. Pitch one or two titles to your potential publishing partner; do not flood potential licensees with too much marketing material.

7. Follow-up within a week of the Fair. Don’t lose momentum. Refer to your notes for the materials you had agreed to send out to the potential partner.

8. Obtain all details from the partner before negotiating the deal: such as their expected first print run, local price, publication schedule and promotion plans.

9. Understand the key points of the license contract before negotiating. Negotiate royalty rate, payment terms, but also set dates for payment and publication schedules. Follow up diligently: for decisions, signing of contracts, payments due, expiry dates, etc.

10. Create and maintain a good reputation as a rights seller. Be punctual; deal honestly and fairly; and build good and trustworthy relationships. Remember, the world of rights is a small one.

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