Pub Rants

Importance Of Tracking World Rights

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Status: Ah, worked on royalty statements some today. Hence, this entry!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS by John Denver

Even though as an agent I rarely grant World rights in a deal, I occasionally do if the monies are right. If the agency sells UK and translation rights, it’s easy to track the deals/monies as all info will be moving through the agency.

However, if a Publisher holds World, then all the info and monies move through the Publishing House’s subrights department. Sometimes editors are good at staying on top of the info and sometimes they aren’t. That’s why when I do grant World rights, I make it a point to contact the subrights person in charge of selling the rights for my author’s title.

It’s absolutely essential to know what foreign rights have sold and the terms of the deal. Why? If the royalty statement comes in and the subrights sales aren’t on it, then it’s clear something is amiss with the statement.

Case in point for a royalty statement I was reviewing today. We had on-file the deal memos and dates of all foreign deals done so far. Now foreign monies can often take 6 to 12 months to show on a statement so we don’t expect them to show immediately. However, if more than 12 months have elapsed since the close of the deal, it’s time to start asking questions.

In our case, the subrights monies were there but tied to a dummy ISBN that was created when the books first sold and not to the actual ISBN. This glitch kept them from showing on the statement.

Easy as pie as one phone call fixed the problem, but the issue can only be fixed if an agent or author knows to ask the question—which is why one should always track World right sales when the publisher holds those rights.

6 Responses

  1. M.J.A. Ware said:

    I see so many posts like this on pubrants (dealing with commission, publishers, royalty statements, etc.)that make me realize just how important finding an agent, the right agent, is.

    If writers had to learn all this themselves, they’d either have little time to write, or ignore it all and make less $$$.

  2. Jeroen Steenbeeke said:

    I’m with the previous poster on this one. There’s no substitute for the wealth of knowledge a good agent possesses.

    Which is why I really don’t understand that some people keep suggesting I try self-publishing.

  3. Jen Zeman said:

    I consider myself a fairly intelligent individual, but the world of “rights” sometimes leaves my head spinning! Thanks for shedding some light!

  4. Anonymous said:

    Do you use a computer program to assist you in tracking sales and rights? If not, would you like one (no charge)? If so, contact me.

    Dave Kuzminski

  5. Anonymous said:

    I vaguely remember Kristin doing a post or two (probably some years back) about how much you make if your agent sells foreign rights versus if you sold world rights to the publisher and they’re selling them, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives. Anyone know what post I’m talking about/can they comment with the link if they do, please?

  6. Liesl said:

    Just more proof for why I really don’t want to navigate this business without an agent. I don’t even know what World rights are.