Now that the OICPS Rights class of 2013 have wrapped our collective heads around seven weeks worth of lectures, it is time to meet the lady who quite literally wrote the book on Selling Rights (now in its sixth edition.) Lynette Owen OBE is the Copyright Director of Pearson Education Ltd. She was given the London Book Fair International Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and the Inaugural Kim Scott Walwyn award for achievement by women in publishing in 2004. Diane Spivey is the Rights and Contracts Director at Little Brown, whose responsibilities include ensuring Ozzy Osborne has all the correct translated copies for his recent overseas concert – or suffer the wrath of Sharon.
Ensuring that copies of English books are available across the world is a tricky business. Operating from a lifetime of Book Fairs, someone working in Rights must be sensitive to carefully managed time, money, and cultural factors.
Selling translation rights of a business book entitled Are You a Badger or a Doormat? How to be a Leader Who Gets Results will prove difficult when the country whose market you are hoping to tap either: 1.) has badgers who look very different to our British natives living on the front cover, or 2.) don’t have badgers at all.
How will someone in Dubai know that a badger is a nocturnal animal wary of humans, emerging at night to be productive only to scurry away? And will that metaphor translate into the secretive boss who doesn't give much away to their staff?
When the badger is a key character in a children’s book, forget about co-editions unless marketing the book as a cultural oddity. What IS this strange black and white stripey thing?
To work in Rights means managing a personal database of connections across an international publishing industry so as to instinctively know who will be interested in your product. It is a job which means eliminating the people who aren’t suitable as much as finding those who are.
The goal is always to get the big deal, to sell to multiple markets and work the economy of scale for the best deal for publishers and their foreign partners. However tapping small markets with carefully constructed deals can prove equally beneficial if it means securing copyright management, avoiding piracy, and spreading brand recognition.
If this means compromising on details such as uniforms/no uniforms in school playgrounds, driving on the right instead of the left, taking out that image of Big Ben and replacing it with an Eiffel tower, then it can be done. And maybe we can substitute that badger for a groundhog? During our field trip to Oxford University Press last week, Children's and Educational Rights Manager, Polly Silk, explained that with digital developments, sometimes changing these issues can be as simple as a click on the computer to flip an image or reverse some colours. Diane Spivey reminds us, however, that these books still need special consideration when it comes to printing plates, and additional costs from designers and printers do occur.
I shall be heading to Bologna Children's Book Fair on the 26th March.
Key equipment to keep an eye out for around the stands:
Dummy copies – blank mock ups from the printers that demonstrate the quality, size and weight of a book.
AIs (advance information sheets) – documents listing summary, price, previous editions and unique selling points for upcoming titles.
Design spreads – especially for picture books, highly illustrated displays that get the look across to customers.
Catalogues – find the publisher’s list for the upcoming year and note previous bestsellers.
iPads – okay so the publishing industry is cutting down it’s print promotional material for costs and environmental reasons, but catalogues are making their way to visually appealing digital formats.
Calculators – this one might just be for my benefit. But I got to grasp with figuring out those gross profit details in the end. Practice makes perfect, right?