How to Get Into Publishing: Introduction to Rights

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How to get into Publishing:

Introduction to Rights

Nyasha oliver An informal guide for publishing hopefuls to learn more about the roles and responsibilities in Rights



Author's Note

What is Rights?




Publishing Management Softwares

5. Working with the Production and Finance Team



Invoicing and Payments




Rights Guide


10. Thanks to


Author's Note

Whenever I get asked about my previous role as a Rights Assistant, I try to summarise it as "selling the rights of a book to international publishers and agents." But it is not enough to explain to the average person and it's so much more than that. Rights is one of the most important departments in publishing but it is always overlooked for how little information and awareness it has to future publishing hopefuls who seek to work in book publishing. I remember talking to an ex-colleague who had done an MA in Publishing and she said all she was taught was Editorial, Marketing, Design and Sales. In my experience, all I had was the Publishing Hopefuls Facebook group, Eleanor Marie Rose's videos such as Rights in Publishing and by asking questions to people within the industry. I worked on How to Get Into Publishing: Introduction to Rights to help encourage publishing hopefuls to get into the world of publishing and start a career within the Rights department. Especially if you are Black, Asian or from a marginalised background, the industry needs more of you to progress and change things for the better. Additional information and words of advice within this guide couldn't have been done without the help of the publishing professionals who have been credited in the "Thanks to" chapter. I hope this guide helps you understand Rights more and gives you another route into the publishing industry. I’d be happy to know if this guide helps in any way and I would root for your success in 2021, 2022 and onwards!




​ hen an author sells ​t o ​a publisher the rights to their W book, the publisher often gets world language rights to the book, meaning they can sell the rights to the book in as many languages, formats and territories as stipulated in the contract. This allows the author's book to reach new readers and bring in more revenue. As a part of the Rights team, your main role and responsibilities might involve drafting the contracts, adding new deals to the publishing management software, raising invoices, working on submissions, preparing sales material for Book Fair trips, working on the Rights Guide​​ and keeping databases ​o n many, many spreadsheets. ​ You also have the opportunity to go to book fairs internationally to interact with potential partners such as publishers and agents, the main ones being London, Bologna and Frankfurt Book Fair. Depending on the publisher, you will work closely with various departments such as Production, Finance, Permissions and Contracts, Editorial and the Fulfilment team.​ ​T hese responsibilities do differ depending on the publisher company you work for​. ​ This role is recommended to publishing hopefuls who have great organisational skills, have an interest in international sales (of rights) and some knowledge of invoicing and payments. It's not a requirement to be bilingual or multilingual but it can be helpful.

What kind of Rights deals are there? These are deals that you need to draft into contracts and send to the publisher or agent of the publisher in order for it to be signed by both parties. There are a variety of Rights such as Film, TV, Merchandising, Theatre and many more. The ones I’ll be focusing on in the next chapter are Co-edition and Subsidiary (also known as Subrights) deals. Along with this, there are also Addendums, Renewals and Reprints which will be explained in the next chapter.

*An international publisher or agent may be referred to as a customer from time to time in this guide.





CONTRACTS ​ ontracts are a vital part of the process and you'll learn how to draft the C contract between the international publisher and company. You don't need to draft a new contract every time ​from scratch ​but ​instead using a specific template. When a deal is confirmed, you'll receive the deal mem​o​(also known as DM) to draft the contract f​or the territory manager. The following are a few examples of what types of contracts there are. The only things that might be repeated in each contract are the name of the publisher, title of the book, language, territory, quantity of copies, price per copy and duration of years to attain the rights (term).

CO-EDITION ​ Co-edition deal is when the publisher prints a number of language A editions on behalf of the ​customer (or international publisher) alongside their own edition in the same print run, ​in addition to handling the shipping and packing. This reduces printing costs of the production, distribution and marketing of a book.

SUBRIGHTS ​A Subrights deal gives ​a customer the right to translate the book to ​other languages and grant ​them ​permission ​and ​the right to publish and print the books themselves. The difference between these two deals is that subrights have a file fee and advance pay in the head contract​,​the terms license and CD & Royalty ​is typically only used for ​other language deals.

ADDENDUM Addendums revise​s​any terms that weren't part of the original contract and ​ anything the customer wants to add ​later on ​that have been negotiated with the territory manager​. ​Once negotiated and agreed, ​then an addendum is drawn up for that. This could be price changes, specifications, quantity of copies, change of the shipping port, adding audio rights etc.

RENEWALS ​After a deal’s contract has expired, you will have to reach out to each existing customer one by one if they want to renew the contract for a number of years. ​If a customer agrees to continue the deal, you will have to do a renewal contract to add this.

REPRINTS Reprints give​customers the chance to purchase the right to print the same title a second, third or hundredth time, ​which is exclusively ​only ​for co-edition deals.


PUBLISHING MANAGEMENT SOFTWARES ​S ystems widely used in the publishing industry such as Biblio3, PMM or Bradbury Philips offer functionality to help in the endto-end publishing process. These are the primary software​s ​ to find everything you need while working in Rights. Some digital publishers m​​a y differ and use AirTable instead of ​t he ones named above.

​ ou will learn to use one of these Y publishing management software​s ​ in order to do some of the​ following tasks: ​ dding new deals to the system A Include payment lines and invoice dates to every deal Uploading countersigned contracts Raising invoices Downloading new images for the Rights Guide Logging submissions into the software Unfortunately, there aren't any courses or training programmes that I could find, especially for the infamous Biblio3 which has many sections in the software that intertwine with other departments. However, it is not compulsory for someone applying for an entry level position to know how to use the software beforehand as you will learn on the job.






Not many Rights departments work closely with Production but if you do, it's usually for co-edition deals. The Rights team communicates with the customers for all their files and deadlines.

​W ithin Rights, you work with the Finance team (​a lso could be referred to as ​t he ​A ccounts​​ team) to help monitor expenses and chase payments within the company.


​ ost of the tasks M while liaising with this department require helping to chase late payments, raising invoices, adding payment lines to deals on the publishing management software and sending invoices out to customers so they can make ​a ​p ayment​​.

Quite a few tasks​ will​ involve answering enquiries,​ as well as​ receiving ​ the ​s hipping instructions​, ​ forwarder information​, ​ ​g etting confirmation of advances, ex-works dates, schedule run date and the RI (rights instructions)​ ​ from the publisher​.

TIPS Keep track of the invoice dates and any payments before the due date.

Take the time to get to know production terms as it'll come in handy.

*This chapter does depend on the publishing company you work for so advice here can be taken lightly and differ depending on the publishing company you work for.


INVOICING & CHASING PAYMENTS As part of Rights, you will realise how closely you work with the Finance department. After getting the deal memo, adding the deal to the system and having the contract signed, the customer needs to make the first payment as per the stipulations of the contract. Either yourself (co-edition) or the Finance team (subrights) will raise the invoices. I won't go into too much detail as it does depend on which publisher you'll work for but invoicing is done on the publishing management software. *Co-edition deals only - If a customer has not made a payment on time, the books cannot go on the scheduled print run that the Production department oversees.

Many reports and Excel spreadsheets will document what needs to be invoiced or who needs to be chased for payments.

Chasing for payments *Co-edition deals only You will have to chase for late payments from customers before this happens, particularly the second or final payment. After the third chase, you should liaise with territory managers (unless this is your position already) and the Finance team to proceed onto the next step.





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SUBMISSIONS After the Book Fair, Submissions are a great way to keep track of what titles an international publisher or agent will be interested in. You’ll have to make notes for the territory manager on how the customer was introduced to the title e.g. through email, in person, on the phone etc. on the publishing management software of the company you'll work in. This will also include logging any rejected titles. This information can be stored and used in the future to help your territory manager and the rest of the Rights team keep track of with what languages and territories the titles can be sold in and who's interested in a given title in order to maximise sales for the company.


GLOSSARY I have compiled a glossary of terms and phrases when I worked in Rights that you can refer back to. It may also have some terms that interwine with other departments.

*CIF or Cost, Insurance, Freight - The company will cover the costs, insurance, and freight of an international publisher's order while in transit. Co-edition - When the publisher prints the author’s books in any language along with handling the shipping and packing information which reduces the printing costs. *DAP or Delivered At Place - A deal in which the company agrees to pay all costs and suffer any potential losses of moving goods sold to a specific location. Ex-works - the date when the books leave the printer. *FOB or Free on Board - The international publisher pays for the shipping cost from the printer to the warehouse. Nominated Printer - When the customer chooses the printer to print the books, never the customer and they must pay in advance. RI Number or Rights Instruction Number.

SI or Shipping Instructions. Documents needed to provide the Production team with information of the customer's shipping port to send to the printer. Subsidiary Rights or Subrights - Gives customers the right to translate the book to foreign languages and grant permission the right to publish print the books themselves. Submissions - To keep track of what titles and imprints a publisher or agent is interested in.

*CIF, DAP and FOB are all deals that shipping is hugely dependent on where the book is printed. There's no shipping for FOB but for CIF and DAP, it can take up to 6-8 weeks from ports such as Hong Kong (12+ weeks due to the pandemic adds further delays).


THANKS TO I want to thank the Rights publishing professionals from other companies such as HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Bookouture and Hachette who were able to provide advice and additional information:

Bethany Creamer Hany Sheikh Mohamed Karen Rós Kristjánsdóttir Saidah Graham

Tips for Publishing Hopefuls Look at the job listing and add to your application what responsibilities you can do within the role. Make it clear you want to work for the company and why Rights specifically, rather than publishing in general. Make prep answers for your interview. Learn the basics of WeTransfer and Excel. Join Twitter and/or LinkedIn to connect with publishing professionals and ask as many questions.

Nyasha Oliver has asserted the moral right to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted, in any form or by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission from Nyasha Oliver. This guide is intended for informational purposes only. Copyright © Nyasha Oliver, 2021



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