‘Maximize the Rights Impact of a Book’: A Few Words With Kris Kliemann

In News by Erin L. Cox

‘Rights and permission revenue is a low-cost, high-margin business,’ says Kris Kliemann, who speaks on June 13 at our rights conference in New York City.
Image - iStockphoto: MRRTxPilot

Image – iStockphoto: MRRTxPilot

By Erin L. Cox | @erinlcox

‘Who Is Minding the Store for All These Opportunities?’
Kris Kleimann

Kris Kleimann

Kris Kliemann is an expert who knows well the challenges and benefits of publishing worldwide, particularly in the new digital economy.

Most recently as Vice President and Director of Global Rights at Wiley, Kris Kleimann has followed the digital dynamic in publishing, adapting strategies as the rights marketplace shifted focus.

Looking ahead to her participation as a speaker in the June 13 conference, Rights and Content in the Digital Age, we asked her about the state of global publishing, how to maximize assets in the rights department for better revenue, and what global rights and licensing will look like in the future.

Publishing Perspectives:  What do you see as one of the biggest challenges that publishers face in the rise of digital and global publishing?

Kris Kliemann: As we sell into new markets and in different formats, one of the challenges is how to manage not only the books themselves, but the data around books. There are tons of aspects of a book — photographs, research, excerpts — that need to be tracked to make sure that we have permissions for those different markets and formats. If we don’t track that, there’s a potential for penalties or legal actions. And if we know what rights we have for every component, we can maximize the impact of the book overall and overtime.

PP: What do you see as potential new revenue streams that publishers might discover when taking a closer look at their rights and licensing business?

KK: Publishers should be delving into who is using their content, and how it is being used. Are stories or excerpts frequently included in anthologies from other publishers? If we look across all of our backlist — not just author by author, but considering our list as a whole — can we create custom product that would sell directly into markets that are not our core business?

  • Is there potential to go direct to an education market?
  • Or to a corporate market?
  • Alternately, what is the role of a publisher in partnering with an author or group of authors to create a workshop or webinar based on content?

These are all questions that aren’t being asked and could provide publishers with more revenue.

PP: There has been a debate in the rights community about whether or not to automate permissions and licensing. What do you think about rights automation?

KK: Personal relationships and firsthand knowledge of markets are key, but by embracing automation for the “backroom” parts of licensing, we can free up time to focus on more strategic areas. For example, if I can turn around every permission request within 24 hours and spend less time chasing payments, that could allow me to talk more deeply to those repeat permission-requestors about their business and their needs, and perhaps even increase the collaboration. If I can turn small translation contracts around efficiently using automation, then perhaps I can do more business in smaller countries without taking time away from the bigger deals. Generally speaking, rights and permission revenue is a low-cost, high-margin business and the bottom-line impact can really make a difference across the P&L for the title and for the company overall.

PP: How do you see global rights and licensing changing in the future?

KK:  Today, so many more questions come up that may change the way we look at our rights business:

  • What really pushes the needle on a book’s success?
  • Who is minding the store for all of these opportunities?
  • Where is your center for understanding the long-term potential for the content?

Exploring ways to reach out directly to markets and customers interested in what you publish — but [also] for usages and formats that may not be part of your current business — can yield big rewards for you and authors. Selling books is a piece of it, but not the whole picture.


Kris Kliemann will be speaking at Publishing Perspectives’  Rights and Content in the Digital Age conference on June 13, Grand Hall at the NYU Kimmel Center in New York City. The conference hashtag is #pprights16Tickets are available here.

More on the conference:

About the Author

Erin L. Cox

Erin L. Cox is the Business Development Director for Publishing Perspectives and a Senior Associate at Rob Weisbach Creative Management, where she represents writers and handles publicity and advertising clients.