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Senior Rights Executive

Career Spotlight: Senior Rights Executive

Photo of Grace McCrum, Senior Rights Executive, Headline

By Grace McCrum, Senior Rights Executive, Headline

Grace from the Headline rights team answers a few quick-fire questions about life in the department.

When I was 5 years old I wanted to be…

A farmer - well, really an extreme pet owner. I read Sophie’s Snail by Dick King Smith and wanted to be Sophie and own two of all farm animals, but I would never kill them or eat them, they would just be my pets.

How did you end up as Senior Rights Executive?

I knew I wanted to work in the book business, so did a few work experience placements which confirmed that publishing was the job for me. I then had an internship at Louise Allen Jones the scouting company, which gave me really good insight into international publishing.

Give us an idea of what you do every day

As a rights executive, I work selling domestic rights, so I mostly work with audio, large print and reprint publishers. This means I need to keep on top of our pub schedule and consider which titles would work best for these publishers. Once a publisher makes an offer I then need to try and negotiate the best deal for the author.

The part you most enjoy about working in publishing

I love the travel we get to do in the Rights department; meeting people from all over the world and convincing them to buy rights in our titles. And the constant supply of cake and tote bags in the office definitely makes life easier.

The most challenging aspect of working in publishing

Having to work to other people's deadlines can be very stressful, in Rights you’re dealing with so many people who are trying to publish their books as well as possible all over the globe. Everyone has a schedule and every request and enquiry can feel very urgent.

If you weren’t a Rights Executive what would you be?

Perhaps a zoologist or a park keeper… I never imagined myself working indoors and always wanted to work with animals when I was younger.

The book I’ve read the most times…

It’s probably a draw between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson. I mean, I haven’t read either of them for a very long time, but when I was younger these were all I needed. I know I read Double Act at least 12 times.

The book that I wish I had helped publish

When Breath Becomes Air; it’s such an incredible book and one that everyone knew about from the off.  The cover is instantly recognisable and it’s been on bestsellers lists everywhere. I think it must have been an amazing project to be involved in.

How would you advise someone who wanted your role?

It’s important to have an interest in the market outside of the UK, and to be passionate about promoting and selling. All year round you’re pitching titles and persuading publishers that a particular title is best for them – so it’s a big part of the job. Experience in a Rights department is always useful too so you get to see how it all works. It’s not an area most people even know about at first, so we’re always pleased when people are keen to learn more.

What trends have you noticed in the industry recently?

There’s definitely more publishers trying to create their own intellectual property nowadays. Publishers are trying harder to initiate creative ideas and then find authors to fulfil these, which can definitely work well.

What have you enjoyed reading recently?

I’ve mostly been reading non-fiction recently. I loved The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, It’s All in Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan and All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead. On the fiction side I really enjoyed This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farell, so different from anything of hers I’ve read before. And We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is amazing!

This interview originally appeared on the Headline blog on September 2016.