The Top 10 Rights Hacks

Frankfurt Book FairOn the first official day of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Jane Tappuni of IPR License and Kris Kliemann of Kliemann and Co. gave a presentation on the Publishing Perspectives stage in which they outlined the top 10 hacks publishers should implement when considering how to sell their rights.

One of the biggest takeaways from the presentation was the importance of using a good rights system, which, Tappuni said, “should pay for itself.” And as Kliemann added, you need to be able to “organize your metadata very carefully so you know what you can sell.”

The two also stressed that it’s important when making a rights guide to customize your pitches and even create something interactive that lets potential licensees find what they’re looking for.

“You need to pitch toward why would a company benefit from publishing this book,” Kliemann said.

Another key piece of advice was the importance of face-to-face interaction, as much can get lost in translation over email. Tappuni said that email can “kill business” and Kliemann added that “email is not a full conversation. You need to know the other person understood.”

Whether it’s simply a Skype call or meeting up at a book fair, it’s important to put in face time. Kliemann even suggested writing a handwritten letter once a year.

Creativity and flexibility were also stressed as important attributes of a solid rights program. Publishers need to stop thinking in black-and-white terms about their books and potential licensing deals.

“Please don’t leave money on the table just because you’ve always done it this way,” Kliemann said.

As a publisher, you have the opportunity to do smaller deals, offer subscriptions, and sell rights to chapters rather than the entire book.

“Get more deals done quickly so you can focus on big stuff,” Tappuni said.

The full list is below:

1. Know your rights. “Systems are very useful for telling you things, but only if you get the data right.” – Tappuni
2. Make a great rights guide. “A great rights guide is really about great marketing. My advice is never stop marketing.” – Kliemann
3. Expose your backlist. “Being able to digitally expose your backlist is only going to bring you more revenue and opportunity.” – Tappuni
4. Know your customers. “It’s important to keep track of all these details. Store all this data outside of your head so your head is ready to have the important conversation with the customer.” – Tappuni
5. Sell in aggregation and chunks. “Use the systems that you’ve been given to understand what you can license.” – Kliemann
6. Stay in touch. “Take the time throughout the year to have actual conversations with people.” – Kliemann
7. Be creative and flexible on deals. “Why not find a way to make quick and easy deals on the smaller things?” – Tappuni
8. Listen and learn. “If you’ve done a bit of bonding and you’ve pre-selected a few titles to talk about, then stop talking and listen to what they have to say.” – Kliemann
9. Be swift to respond. “What kills us in business is the length of time it takes to make a deal.” – Tappuni
10. Use tools. “Don’t use that Excel spreadsheet that only you know where it is on your desktop.” – Tappuni


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