Monday, 21 April 2014

Day Twenty-One: The Value of Your Book - Publishing Rights #BYBin30

Whether you are self-publishing or publishing through one of the traditional publishing houses, you need to know about your rights, and about the different formats your book can earn money for you. You also need to be aware of the fact that some publishers will buy many of your book's rights but not use them all, and, if you are like most writers, you will want your book to reach as many markets as is possible.

First, you need to know about the different formats your book can be produced in, each of which constitutes one of the "rights" to your book.

Digital rights (e-books): The term "e-book" has been around since the 1980s, and the term "e-reader" has been around since the 1990s. The original e-book were book files that could be read on your computer, but since the advent of e-readers, e-books have become increasingly popular devices used for reading books. The most well-known of the e-reader devices, making them the best markets for your e-book sales, are Amazon Kindle, the Apple e-reader (iBooks) and the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Kobo e-reader. When you sell your rights for the e-book format of your book, these are the main ones your publisher will be looking to sell those books through. If you are self-publishing, then these are the main markets you will need to publish through. E-books have no printing costs and therefore have the potential for greater earnings per book sold than print books.

Print Rights: Print books are the more traditional format, and the format in which we most want to see our books.There is something about holding our own book in printed form that is immensely satisfying. There are various rights when it comes to your book, such as first printing rights

Audio Rights: An audio book is a version of your book where a narrator reads the story out loud to the readers, rather than the readers having to read the book themselves. Audio books are still a growing market for book sales. Audio books are available for sale through Audible books, iBooks, Brilliance and other services.

Territories and Languages: Don't think that selling the rights to your book in print is the end of matters or even that having your book printed for sale is the end of it. There are also several languages your book can be printed in, and each language is another book "right" that your publisher might want to buy from you. Each language is also another market for your book for you to consider if you are self-publishing. Likewise, your rights to your books can also be broken down by "territories" for your book to be sold in.

Film Rights: Your book may have the opportunity to be made into a film. A publisher or agent might be better able to negotiate those rights for you, but he or she will expect a part of the proceeds from you. An option is when the production company rents the rights to make a movie version of your book. The person who writes the script will most likely be someone other than you and, in most cases, you will not have much say over the movie's production.

Something else to consider, if going the traditional route, is the duration of rights. You most likely will not be granting a publisher rights to the entire duration of your copyright, and the duration for each right can be negotiated. Often, when a publisher buys the rights to a book, if the book goes out of print while the rights are still held by the publisher, an author might be able to buy their rights to their book back from the publisher.


It's time to announce the winner of the "Superhero Writer" t-shirt. The winner has been drawn by a random number generator selecting from active participants. (The shirt is white. I'm not sure why Blogger has decided to turn all the whites in my pictures grey, but lately, it has been an issue.) 

And the winner is:

Cecilia Clark!

Congratulations (again), Cecilia!


  1. squeal squeal oh my giddy aunt. I do create whole worlds moohahahahaha

    I had a story with a not-quite-right small press. Thank fully they never asked me to sign a contract for the one story they took but I read the contract that others signed. They were so excited about being offered their first contract that they signed without getting advice and had not realised they signed away their rights to their stories permanently which also included any film and other media rights. I was horrified and sent nothing further to that company. The one short story never sold a single copy. Another friend was a victim of a vanity publisher who charged her almost $20,000 in dribs and drabs for printing and advertising and art for her cover. No editing had been done when she finally came to me and she had signed away rights for six years. It pays to do the homework and get a good legal representative to check the contract.

  2. Blogger just ate my comment :(

    I hadn't thought of all those rights. I've heard of some authors who will self publish in one way and sell other rights to a traditional publisher, eg self publish the ebook and a traditional publisher publishes the print book.


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