Know your rights—A glimpse into the publishing rights of your book

books-441866_1920Today, I am going to write about that aspect of your book that you always tend to ignore in your excitement of getting to publish your book and yet, this is of supreme importance. I am talking about your rights as an author.

Your agent has finally found you that publisher who wishes to publish your book traditionally and take you to new heights as a published author. But is that all you need to look at when signing that contract? No, definitely not.

An an author, there are rights to the book that you exclusively hold. In the end, it’s your book and property. And so, it’s not only necessary but rather mandatory that you know what you’re getting into. But before we begin, kindly know that you hold the copyrights to your book since you created it. If there are any illustrations or images in the book, the rights of those rest with the creator (the respective illustrator or photographer). Here are a few publishing rights you should know about which are helpful in guiding you through that publishing contract:

1. Territorial rights: This implies the area/ territory you are granting your book’s rights to. So, if you are an American author, you can grant your book’s European rights to a publisher and African or Indian rights to another.

2. Language rights: This refers to the original language the book has been written in and its translations into other languages. If you have written a book in English language, rights of which lie with a publisher, you hold the rights to sell the book’s rights in any other language to another publisher. For example, if you wish to publish your book in Hindi (in India) or Polish (in Poland), you can go ahead and sell the book’s Hindi language rights and Polish language rights to publishers in India and Poland respectively.

3. Medium rights: This refers to the medium of publication of the book. Is it a hard copy, an eBook or an audiobook? You can sell the rights to each of these to a different publisher if you wish to. You hold the rights to what medium you wish to publish your book in. When granting publication rights for each media, please note that the royalty for each will be different and so, you must discuss it in details with your publisher prior to signing the contract.

4. Duration rights: How long do you wish to publish a book with a certain publisher? Yes, you can decide who can publish your book for how long in which region, language and medium. However, this doesn’t mean that you are granting the publishing rights for full duration (valid even after the author’s death for around 50 years in most countries). So you can think carefully about your requirements and the publisher’s requirements before you sign your book’s rights to anyone.

It is always a good idea to grant the publisher specific rights of your book. If you are opting for a small publishing house and you know they may not be able to do a good work on your book’s digital media files, only grant them your book’s print edition rights. You may opt for a publishing house that exclusively publishes eBooks and audiobooks, you will not only get a better end-product but the rights will have been used in the right place. If you had given the publisher your book’s soft-copy rights along with the hardback, you could have ended up with products you may not have liked. This is where you can enjoy your rights as an author, by being selective about who you give rights to for publication in what area in what language and for how long.

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