The UK Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), responsible for authors’ rights and licenses in Britain, shared an interview with Crystal Mahey-Morgan, creator of the digital publishing platform OWN IT! And while the former Penguin Random House staffer has much to say about digital publishing, and storytelling in new media, she also has some universally useful comments to make on publishing rights – and what authors should hold on to.
According to ALCS, Mahey-Morgan put in “time working in contracts at Random House before the company merged with Penguin.” Based on this, she states that authors need to be on top of the whole rights process. “You need to be able to negotiate, draft your own contracts, understand terms and the commercial side of things.” And she warns authors to be on their guard. “Are you giving away your world rights? Unless a publisher has plans and can demonstrate how they are going to exploit your rights in other territories then you’re justified in retaining those rights: don’t give them away as a standard part of the contract,” she cautions. “If you do decide to give away those rights then you should try to negotiate a higher percentage, or even a bigger advance. Think about all the subsidiary rights… as a writer you need to be benefiting from them.”
Mahey-Morgan adds that: “Every publisher is going to hate me now! But someone has to say these things. As an independent publisher I’m in a position where I can.”
This certainly chimes in with prior comment that publishers are benefiting hugely from subsidiary rights – at authors’ expense. So if you want to avoid that erosion of your income, authors, follow Mahey-Morgan’s advice, and know your rights.
[Picture courtesy of Crystal Mahey-Morgan via ALCS]