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Our New ALLi Guidebook: How Authors Sell Publishing Rights

Our New ALLi Guidebook: How Authors Sell Publishing Rights

How Authors Sell Publishing Rights by ALLi Orna Ross and Helen SedwickTable of Contents:

Chapter One Publishing Rights In A Digital Age & What To Expect From This Book

  • New Opportunities for Writers
  • The Three Phases of Publishing
  • New Challenges for Writers
  • Who We Are
  • ALLi’s Guiding Principles

Chapter Two What Does A Writer Own?

  • What Is Copyright?
  • Common Questions About Copyright

Chapter Three What Are Publishing Rights?

  • Primary (volume) Rights
  • Subsidiary (sub) Rights
  • Self-publishing

Chapter Four Pathways To Publication

  • The Upside Of Trade-publishing
  • The Downside Of Trade-publishing
  • Self-publishing

Chapter Five How The Self-publishing Sector Works

  • Self-publishing Choices
  • The Self-publishing Sector
  • Evaluating An Assisted Self-publishing Service Company
  • Self-publishing’s Big Five
  • How Much Will Self-publishing Cost?

Chapter Six How Trade-publishing Works

  • Discounting
  • Booksellers
  • Book Wholesalers & Distributors
  • Trade-publishing: Global
  • Small, Independent Presses
  • Literary Scouts
  • Literary Agents
  • Publishing Lawyers

Chapter Seven Tackling The Task

  • Assessing The Market
  • Assessing The Book
  • Rights Guides & Information Sheets
  • Submission Tracking
  • Record Keeping
  • Selling Methods

Chapter Eight Pitching, Negotiating & Closing Rights Deals

  • Making A Good Pitch
  • Pitching Literary Agents
  • Case History: John Penberthy, To Bee or Not To Bee
  • Pitching Publishers Direct
  • Pitching TV & Film Rights
  • The Art Of Negotiation
  • Closing The Sale

Chapter Nine Selling Your Work Internationally

  • Why English Books Have A Leg-up
  • Do You Own Your International Rights?
  • Should You Grant Your Publisher A License For Your International Rights?
  • Engaging Foreign Rights Agents
  • Selling Foreign Rights Without An Agent
  • Options For Selling Directly Into Foreign Markets Independently
  • Pricing and Promoting in Overseas Territories
  • The Effect Of “Globile”
  • Pay For Translation & Sell The Translated Books Yourself
  • How To Find Translators
  • Publishing Books In China
  • Publishing Books In India

Chapter Ten Audiobook Rights

  • What Books Work Best As Audiobooks?
  • Determine If You Still Control Your Audio Rights
  • Options For Authors Producing & Distributing Audiobooks Themselves
  • Other Audio Options

Chapter Eleven Dramatization Rights

  • Film & TV
    • 1. The Pitch
    • 2. Option To Purchase
    • 3. Development
    • 4. Production
  • Voyage Media
  • Radio
  • Stage
  • Multimedia & Interactive Rights

Chapter Twelve Other Subsidiary Rights

  • First & Second Serial Rights
  • Anthology & Quotation Rights
  • Reprint Rights
  • Digest & Condensation Rights
  • Commercial Book Club Rights
  • Merchandising Rights
  • Rights For The Reading Impaired

Chapter Thirteen Running A Rights Business

  • Publishing Power Shift Toward Authors

Appendix I

  • Sample Contracts With Commentary
  • Sample Trade-publishing Contracts
  • Sample Foreign Rights Contract
  • Kindle Direct Publishing Terms & Conditions
  • CreateSpace Services Agreement
  • An Egregious Contract

Appendix II

  • Further Advice
  • How-To For Authors from ALLi, The Alliance of Independent Authors

JUST RELEASED! Have you downloaded your copy?

How Authors Sell Publishing Rights, from The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), helps authors navigate today’s complex rights marketplace. It shows writers the best ways to reach decision-makers in various industries, what these rights-buyers are looking for, and what to expect in negotiating a license or sale of rights.

Our Guidebooks are always free to ALLi Members. Visit the Guidebooks page on the ALLi Members site to download your free copy. (login in required)

Launched at the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference

San Francisco Writers Conference

Orna Ross is currently at the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference and as well as moderating a panel discussion about “FOREIGN RITES: Selling and Publishing Your Book Around the Globe” with Angela Bole, Chandler Crawford and Jennifer LaPlante (and participating in other events too numerous to mention), she is also launched our new ALLi How-to for Authors Guidebook.

Spoilt for Choice

Complex PathThe writer’s path to publication has grown more complex, as new choices emerge. What once was a one-track pathway to print can now feel like a maze of formats, platforms, apps and territories, with film, TV, broadcast, foreign, translation, audio and more.

Position yourself as an equal-partner not merely a “content provider.” You will shun the disrespect for writers inherent in publishing terms like “slush pile” and “list-culling” and see yourself as entering a creative business partnership as an equal player.

All of these publishing rights represent potential readers and income but each market offers different opportunities and operates by different rules. How are writers to find their way without a team of experts and lawyers?

What does our new ALLi Guidebook for Authors Cover?

How Authors Sell Publishing Rights covers how to pitch, negotiate and close a sale with producers, literary agents and global publishing houses, how to manage book fairs and other sales trips and how to keep track of your rights business.

Covering both financial, relationship and legal aspects, and focussing particularly on audiobooks, TV & film and translation, How Authors Sell Rights shows how the publishing landscape for authors is transforming and yielding unprecedented opportunities.

“The advent of online global platforms, right down to social media, the Internet and email means potential licensers and licensees can engage 24/7, whatever their territory,” says Tom Chalmers of IPR License, one of the online platforms facilitating authors in their search for rights buyers and sellers. With the Internet, everyone can know your name and get to know your books.

Pathways to Publication

Being an indie author no longer means that you only self-publish. A number of ALLi members use trade-publishers to distribute some of their titles.

Although the indie movement rose out of self-publishing, it has gone beyond it.

Authors today have a choice in how they get their books to the reader, including traditional channels, self-publishing channels and, ideally, a combination of the two. An author needs an enterprising attitude no matter which route is pursued and the right mindset is the single most important condition for success.

Trade publishers can add value for indies but only if the author’s status as creative director is acknowledged by contractual terms and conditions, and not lip service.

Release Your Inner Badass

As writers, we need to level up. To do so there is one factor you will need above all others. Tenacity.

“In 30 years of practicing business law, I’ve seen a lot of people succeed and fail,” Helen Sedwick says. “No matter what the business, the number one indicator of success is not intelligence, talent, luck, money, education, connections, ethics or even lack of ethics, although all of those help. It’s tenacity—on steroids. Take charge. When it comes to your publishing rights, think and act like a business investor, an entrepreneur, the publisher, the boss…. In other words, writers, release your inner badass.”

Meet the Authors

Orna Ross Black and White HeadshotOrna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing.

Helen Sedwick Lawyer and Author headshotHelen Sedwick is ALLi's Legal Advisor. When self-published her historical novel Coyote Winds, she found no legal guide to assist independent authors navigate the legal side of self-publishing. So she used her 30 years of legal experience to cut through the legalese and write Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. Her goal is to keep writers out of court and at their desks.

Impetus for How Authors Sell Publishing Rights

When Orna and Helen began writing this book, it was very much from the perspective of seeing the sale of rights as an extra: additional income and expanded readership. This is how the sale of rights has always been viewed in trade-publishing and where we thought it was positioned within self-publishing. As the book developed, though, it became clear the rights were much more central to publishing than they both realised.

  • They found a positive synergy around authors licensed rights where success in one territory or format led to another, where rights sold boosted online sales and vice versa.
  • They found that the bigger and more successful an author, a publishing organization or a particular book, the more rights income was being generated.
  • They found that in trade-publishing, the potential for the sale of rights was the deciding factor as to whether or not to take a book on board.
  • They found that literary and film agencies, overseas agents and publishers, and distributors were keen to deal with successful self-publishing authors, welcoming a collaboration of equals.
  • They also found agents and publishers who need to rethink what they offer to writers if we are going to work together successfully. Indie authors need to educate the trade, teaching by doing and by understanding and carefully husbanding our rights.

So in writing this book, we came to believe that there is an onus on authors to realize how central publishing rights can be to our writing and publishing strategies, if we are to harvest the great potential embedded therein. And that this way of thinking about rights should be there from the start, from the initial decision about how to publish, perhaps even while the book is still an idea.


All ALLi Guidebooks are Always Free for ALLi Members

ALLi Members can download our entire How-To for Author series for free on our Member's website.

ALLi Members, download your free copy here. (login in required)

If you're not an ALLi member .. you can purchase your copy here:

Amazon-KDP   Purchase at Kobo

And will be available on other publishing platforms shortly.

Better yet … become an ALLi Member and download this guide, and our existing and future books for free!

There are Plenty of Reasons to Join us Banner for ALLi Membership

Additional Author Rights Resources

ALLi Insights: Legal Essentials for Authors with Helen Sedwick Video & Podcast: Mention “legal” and many authors run for the hills. But, if you’re an Indie Authors who self-publishes you need to know your rights and understand copyright. In this ALLi Insights, Orna chats with Helen Sedwick to discuss self-publishing legal essentials.

ALLi Insights “Author Rights with Toby Mundy” Video and Podcast: In this special edition ALLi Insights, Orna chats with Creative Management agent Toby Mundy to introduce an exciting opportunity for qualifying ALLi members to leverage their global rights through the Toby Mundy Agency.

New Publishing Rights Benefits for ALLi Members – Part One: IPR License Make the most of your ALLi Membership by leveraging a 50% discount, and publishing rights consultancy, being offered by IPR License. IPR License, a publishing rights management platform that allows authors and publishers to trade publishing rights and permissions with other publishers, agents and other rights buyers.

New Publishing Rights Benefits for ALLi Members – Part Two: TMA Literary Agency In addition to our discount and publishing rights consultancy for members with IPR License, ALLi has partnered with Toby Mundy, of TMA, to help our professional members sell their publishing rights, including translation, film and TV rights.


This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. I am author from Nigeria. I write two classes of books, based on my life experiences (as a former Islamic scholar and as once a sojourner in the kingdom of darkness). My books are quite expository in in nature purely for spiritual enlightenment. I want to sell the copy right of two of my books to enhance a wider coverage. Please, can you put me through?

    You can also visit my website: oopaulministries.com

  2. I am stuck I don’t know what to do anymore. I self published a children’s book and so far it has sold 150 at R70 a copy. I am unemployed with 3 children I am really struggling financially. Please help me on how to market my book or sell rights please you can take any percentage that suits you as long as I will recieve the help I need. I want to be a successful writer but in South Africa that’s impossible if you are unknown. how can I be successful if nobody wants to help. Somebody who will hold my hand and applaud him/herself when my story is a testimony to others. Please help this struggling writer.

  3. Hello fellow writers. I am quite new to blogging, but am biting the bullet and trying to move forward. I have written many short stories but I’m sceptical about sending any of my work out…..
    Can you please give me some advice on copywriting my work before I send it off for competitions, magazines and self publishing sites.

    I’ve been told a few conflicting answers to this in the past, so if you can help, I’d be really grateful!

    Many thanks,

    1. Clodagh, we have 1500+ advice articles on this blog, so I suggest you key in some relevant search terms in to the search box and I’m sure you will find lots of helpful answers to your questions.

  4. This seems like it’s aimed at the author who has lots of books to promote and sell. Is it still relevant to first time authors? I have one book, but am working on more.

    1. HI Verity, I think it’s a book that a beginning author should read, in order to understand today’s self-publishing landscape and how to think about the rights embedded in your book. The best time to actually begin the process of selling some of your publishing rights is when you have had some success already in your home territory. Hope that helps, good luck with your writing!

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