digital self publishing

Is Licensing an Opportunity for Self-publishers and Start-ups?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

The toughest thing for most self-publishers in securing a licensing deal will be getting their pitch heard in the first place.

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

digital self publishingToday’s feature story, 5 Tips for Publishers Pursuing Licensing Deals, offers several hard-won pieces of advice for publishers who are interested in pursuing licensing deals. Perhaps the most important of those is #5, is “Temper Ambition with Practicality.”

Today, perhaps the most ambitious and aggressive community in publishing is the DIY/self-publishing community. But how practical would it be for a self-publisher to pursue a big brand for a licensing deal? But what of the small guy or gal publisher?

It’s not out of the real of possibility. In prior eras of publishing, say 10 to 15 years ago, you would hear a great deal more public discussion about “book packagers” — publishers who brought ready-made books to publishers and sold them the rights. Frequently, these books might be licensed content or characters from an existing brand. Today, companies such as Alloy Entertainment or Full Fathom Five continue this practice.

Of course, you need scale and a reputation to leverage to convince a name brand to get into a deal with a self-publisher.

And, as we all know, it’s the name brand writers and authors who have perhaps the strongest argument of going to DIY route themselves. Is it then unlikely that we won’t see writer of significant stature teaming up with a brand to produce books? Vince Flynn working with the US Army to produce a line of military thriller? Bill O’Reilly working with the Republican Party to produce a series of Republican-themed, family values romance novels? The possibilities are dizzying — and a little outrageous. And it’s already happening, albeit in somewhat more subtle ways.

Of course, those writers are already brands on their own. They don’t need licensing deals, as such. A publisher, on the other hand, is often all but invisible when it comes to branding. Their role is to be transparent.

I expect that the biggest obstacle for a self-publisher, small publisher, or start-up to secure licensing deal would  be getting their pitch heard in the first place.

In which case, I refer you back to those all-important 5 tips from John Styring to get you started.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.