Foreign Rights Deals vs. Sales, Which Matters More?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Small pubs may welcome a sales boost, but the new relationships and deals resulting from an awards nod may pay greater dividends in the long-term

By Edward Nawotka

british pounds

Today’s lead story about the impact being longlisted for the Booker Prize has had on a trio of small, independent UK publishers notes the massive uptick the publishers have had in interest from foreign publishers seeking rights.

The sales boost a title gets from such a nomination has been documented — though at times, that boost may seem underwhelming. The consensus is those titles that benefit the most are the ones with wide distribution in the market at the time of the announcement. Smaller publishers can rush to reprint, but it might take weeks for those books to reach stores and get onto shelves — perhaps too late to take advantage of the first flush of attention.

The real advantage in the long run for small publishers might not be revenue from increased sales — though that is always welcome — but from the foreign rights deals the attention generates. The sales revenue might be greater, or then again, it might not. But the new contacts, deals and relationships the publishers can make as a result of the nomination may pay greater dividends in the long-term.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.