Monthly Mini-Post: Direct Study, Subsidiary Rights

Each month, one of the weekly posts will be a bit shorter and more personal: a “monthly mini-post” about my experiences in publishing and literary agency to provide you with a view of what it’s like on the inside of these operations. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in publishing and writing from Emerson College, and I will finish at the end of August. For one of my last two courses this summer, I’ve created a directed study entitled Managing Subsidiary Rights. I’m really excited about it! Here’s why:

What are Subsidiary Rights?

One important thing your literary agent will do for you once you sign a contract with a publishing house is begin to sell and license the subsidiary rights that you have retained. For example, if your contract only grants your publisher English language rights, your agent has the opportunity to sell the rights for other languages elsewhere. This is just one example of rights that your agent could sell. (Note: Publishing houses also have subsidiary rights departments and sell rights and issue licenses as well.)

Some examples of subsidiary rights are: movie and TV rights, audiobook rights, ebook rights, foreign rights, foreign language/translation rights, domestic rights, serial, reprint and book club rights, etc.

So what will my directed study focus on? And why do I want to learn about subsidiary rights?


Breakdown of the Course

I’ve developed Managing Subsidiary Rights to help me learn about the different subsidiary rights and permissions, especially in a global sense. As a literary agent in the future, I hope to be able to maximize the reach of my authors’ books. Delving into the key concepts of copyright, author agreements, licensing subsidiary rights, granting permissions, and how licensing helps both the author and the publisher will help me to better serve those authors.

Through this directed study, I will gain an understanding of how to negotiate deals and build sales through licensing opportunities, as well as how to draft contracts between both authors and other publishing companies. By the end of the directed study, I will have created examples of the types of tools and documents that are used in a subsidiary rights department.

I’m so excited to have had the opportunity to create this course. These topics are so important in the publishing industry, and knowing about them as authors can only help you as you move through the publishing process.


Keeping You Posted

I can’t wait to update you about what I’m learning. Throughout the summer, I plan to have posts about the different things I’ve researched and completed for the course, including (but not limited to): author contracts (as well as advances, royalties, and rights granted), subsidiary rights, how agents go about pitching the sale and licensing of rights, international rights, and copyright and fair use.

I’ll decide as I go along how to portion those topics into coherent posts, but I hope you’ll stick around to learn with me. I truly believe these topics are important and interesting, despite the legalese and jargon. I’ll try to make everything as clear as possible, but as always, please let me know if you have questions or comments!

Thanks again for reading!


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