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Head of Rights & Licensing

Career Spotlight: Head of Rights & Licensing

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By Amy Joyner, Head of Rights & Licensing, Kogan Page

Considering working in publishing, but don’t have an English Literature degree? Don’t despair – we still have multiple opportunities for you!

Having left university with two business degrees, I started my career in retail management. After almost a year, I moved back towards London from Birmingham and used the opportunity to evaluate what I really wanted to do with my life. What on earth did I want to be, now that I was supposedly “grown up”?

I applied for various jobs in the local vicinity, including a marketing role with McGraw-Hill. I’ve always loved books and reading, and working for an international publishing house had the appeal of combining my business knowledge and language skills, with my love of the book world. After my interview with McGraw-Hill, the then MD called me and said that actually, they were looking for a Rights and International Sales Exec as well as a Marketing role, and could I come in and discuss the Rights & International Sales role instead? Naturally, I readily agreed, and spent the next few days frantically researching academic and professional publishing, subsidiary rights selling, and how international sales might work in a large multinational publishing house.

After a successful interview, I started my first week with one day in the office, before heading to Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest trade fair for rights selling in the publishing calendar. I had to learn our products, the industry and how rights sales worked and that week still remains one of the most exhilarating and exhausting weeks of my career. I loved every minute – evidenced by the fact that over 15 years later I still work in rights and licensing and have had the pleasure of working for fantastic publishing houses along the way.

No two days are the same in publishing, and rights sales is no different. It’s the variety of the work that keeps many rights sellers engaged, and makes us masters of multitasking!

My day typically starts with responding to customers – whether agreeing the terms for a deal, supplying materials for a rights deal to our licensees, sending customers review materials or evaluating the latest translations that have landed in the office. As a team, we then start reviewing which events are coming up next – when we are planning for a book fair such as Beijing or Frankfurt, we need to organise logistics, plan and book meetings and ensure that all our books are being covered at the fair. A typical book fair involves over 50 half-hour meetings, so there’s a lot to prep per meeting.

We then turn to evaluating our own products, whether that’s contributing to the editorial commissioning meetings, planning marketing activities around our books (including through our rights sales focused social media channels), or ensuring that all books are included in marketing campaigns. We’ll also ensure that we’re keeping an eye on finances – chasing payments where necessary, evaluating how we’re performing compared to financial targets, which territories and rights areas are doing well, and where we need to build activity.

Rights sales staff usually interact with almost all departments in a publishing house, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know all functions of publishing. We get to work with authors, often delivering the great news that their book will be appearing in a different channel/format/language, and we also have the privilege of travelling internationally, learning about the international publishing scene. What’s not to love?

This post was first published in November 2017 as part of #workinpublishing week.