Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
This two-part series examines how implementing a rights system can add value to a publishing organization. In part I, we defined value as a combination of revenue, author relations and brand, and we identified five areas where a system can help bring value:
2. Identifying Opportunities
3. Identifying Expiring Agreements
4. Progressing Existing Deals
5. Analyzing Results
We finished by digging into the first of these: collections.
In this second part, I will investigate the other four areas and then summarize our findings.
Identifying New Opportunities
When it comes to monetizing content, publishers use some combination of the following approaches:
1. Passive licensing, handling inbound requests to use content.
2. Active licensing, actively seeking out new opportunities for content.
For publishers doing passive licensing, a rights management system will help track licensing and ensure receipt of payments, but there is not much it can do in terms of increasing requests.
For publishers actively promoting their content, however, a system can have a meaningful impact on revenues. For example, when looking for opportunities, by identifying all the rights available for their current content, a publisher can more easily hone in on the most valuable opportunities in their list. If some books are doing great in translation, easily identifying which languages and territories are available can lead to new opportunities for revenue.
Related to opportunities, when considering a potential license, there is value in examining your history with that licensee. Have they had success selling your content? Do they pay royalties on time? When everything is recorded in a database, this information becomes available to guide publishers in making the most profitable licensing decisions.
Once an agreement for an existing license expires, one of three things happens. The licensee may:
1. Cease sales of the licensed content.
2. Continue sales of the licensed content in violation of the agreement.
3. Renew the license.
For books that are not generating much licensing revenue, option #1 is typically the best approach and option #3 is probably not worth the effort.
For profitable licenses, though, options #1 and #2 are problematic. A publisher should likely renew that license.
None of the three items above can be accomplished without tools to help identify expiring agreements. Many rights departments use a spreadsheet to record expiration dates. For the diligent, that can work. For everyone else, it represents risk both of violation of your agreements with your authors and of loss of revenue.
A good rights system provides quick and easy insight into expiring agreements helping to ensure both compliance and maximum revenue generation.
Progressing Existing Deal Opportunities
Consider a publisher actively promoting rights sales. Perhaps review copies have been sent. Perhaps multiple parties have expressed interest in the same exclusive license. How do these opportunities get converted into actual revenue-generating deals?
People are busy, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Therefore, an important part of the sales process is to stay on top of agents, publishers and other licensees who have expressed interest in a company’s products. Without a rights management system, keeping track of all prospective rights buyers is daunting, if not impossible. On the flip side, running a quick and easy report to show you which prospects are at what stage of the sales cycle can help bring stalled deals to closure and free up un-used options for sales to others.
Even once the deal is signed, it is in both parties’ best interest to monetize the license as quickly as possible. Having a way to track the status of signed deals and the expected publish date can help nudge licensees toward execution. Have they sent you a review copy of the translation yet? Have they uploaded the metadata to retailers? A good rights system will help you identify the opportunities that have yet to be leveraged.
With all your deals, prospects and income stored in a single system, rights managers and publishers can access high value data to help drive profitable decisions. To list just a few: are there certain genres of books that are more profitable? What rights are still available on the best performing content? Which territories, agents or publishers generate the most revenue?
A good rights management system will provide you with reports to help drive profitable decisions. It may even provide you with the raw data to run your own reports.
Unlike the other value-add aspects of a rights management system, this is one area where even with great discipline Excel breaks down. It is great at manipulating and presenting data, but not so much at querying and combining information. With small rights operations, this may be OK. But where the rights revenue is material to an organization, analysis will be limited.
Whatever the size of your rights operations, a commercial rights management system can help improve revenue. In some cases, the value and return on investment does not justify the cost. However, once a certain level of revenue and deal volume is achieved, the absence of a system can cost money and create risk in the form of lost deals and uncollected revenue.
There are many systems available ranging widely in their capabilities and costs.
If you would like more information or learn more about one of your options, please visit MetaComet’s website. Please also feel free to contact me directly to learn more.
Previous Article: The Benefits of Implementing a Rights Management System: Part I
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