Publishing contract ~ what are subsidiary rights?

As an author, I wish I could write and write and have someone else worry about publishing contracts and marketing.  We, authors, can avoid these to some extent by having an agent work for us to try to get the best deal.  Even then, we still need to become involved in the process to make sure the agent is doing what is best for us. Whether agented or unagented, authors need to understand what is presented in black and white to make sure they maximize current and future revenues.  To do that, we have to understand some publishing contract terms.

Today, I’m going to talk about subsidiary rights as they pertain to U.S. contracts.  This information is in no way to be viewed as legal advice.  I am not an attorney. These terms are for educational purposes only.  I will try to explain as much as I can so you, as an author, will have the knowledge to make an informed decision if you ever find yourself with a publishing contract in hand.

Authors have nine (9) subsidiary rights.  They are:

  1. First serial – This is your right as an author to publish excerpts or condensed versions of your manuscript or book in magazines and newspapers before the book is published. You may not see any $$ from these, but they are awesome for exposure and getting readers excited to buy your book.
  2.  Second serial – This is same as the First Serial right except this covers the same right to publish excerpts after your book is published.  Again, few $$ if any, but extremely valuable book promotion.
  3.  Book Club – This is a fierce and competitive market, and if your book can break into “the Club”, there can be substantial royalties. It is said you’ll need excellent contacts or an awesome agent/publisher to open the door of this exclusive Club.
  4. Foreign rights (also called foreign language license) – As the right implies, this is your right as an author to publish and sell your book outside the US.
  5. Reprint – This is a natural progression of your book.  The norm used to be Hardback, then paperback.  Rarely was the paperback printed first and then hardback upon reprint, but it did happen every now and then.  With the advent of e-books, the norm seems to be e-book, then paperback upon reprint, or ebook along with Hardback, then paperback on reprint.
  6. Performance (also called dramatic) – This is your right as the author to have your novel or manuscript adapted into dramatic performances to be enacted on radio, TV, in a movie, play, etc.
  7. Audiobook – This right (and the electronic or ebook right) is your right as an author to produce your manuscript or book in audio (or electronic) format.
  8. Electronic – You might see this combined in Audio rights.  Some publishers call it Reproduction.
  9. Merchandise – This right allows you, the author, to produce merchandise like T-shirts, video games, action figures, etc. based on your story or characters. This right is usually associated with film rights and will most likely be purchased by the studio/producer in a package deal along with your performance rights.


Tomorrow, I’ll pass on which rights the publishers usually keep, and which ones the publishing agents and gurus suggest that you, as the author, should keep, if at all possible.



Newly found Oyster has lots of pearls

Oyster & pearl by Used under Creative Commons license
Oyster & pearl by Used under Creative Commons license

There is an Oyster out there that offers up more than 100,000 thousand gems.  Think I’m kidding?

New York start-up company, Oyster is doing for readers what Netflix did for movie lovers.  According to their website, Oyster offers up unlimited books for $9.95 a month.  More than 100,000 titles are available, anytime, anywhere.  Think of it as having a library at your fingertips.  Anything from YA to Romance to History to Sci Fi. You want it, Oyster delivers.  You can keep up with what your friends are reading and recommend books to your friends all with a single click.  

At the moment, it appears Oyster is only available for I-phones and I-Pod touch, but I’m sure they’ll expand their reach once the company grows.

Another cool thing about Oyster, if you’re an author or publisher, there’s a special link to Oyster if you want to work with them.  This could be HUGE for small presses and indie authors.  What a fab idea!  What do you think?  

And the winner is?

Today, some lucky person who commented on  my blog between December 1 and December 29 is going to win an e-book of the Make Believe anthology.  I wonder who it could be.  Shall we find out?  May I have a drum roll please?


And the lucky winner is:

free glitter text and family website at

Congratulations, Kourtney!  Please contact me at kford2007(at)gmail(dot)com  to provide me with the format you prefer.

I also have more bookmarks and digital signed e-book covers of the Make Believe anthology to giveaway so tune in tomorrow to discover if your name will be added to the winner’s list!

I want to thank all you for tagging along with me in 2012 and I look forward to more conversations in 2013!  

The “Inconvenience” of books

I have to take a moment to spew and rant, all in good fun, mind you.  Of course I welcome all comments and respect all opinions, and am in no way trying to disrespect anyone.

I’ve heard over the past week by several people how books are too inconvenient to carry around.  The words almost made me weep, especially since one of the comments came from an author who wants to see his/her books in print.  What I want to know is when did this mentality set in?  Are we too enamored by technology that we’re losing the human aspect of our existence?

I understand that print books may be cumbersome, and I understand people can’t carry around a multitude of books at a time, but to eliminate them all together?  I don’t  understand.  Print books are ‘real’.  They are tangible.  When you hold a book, four of your five senses ignite:  touch, smell, sight, hear (audio books).  In addition, many well-loved books contain notes, autographs, mementos, personal treasures in the form of pressed flowers or hair clippings or ribbons.  Old books have distinct smells; their pages have a nostalgic feel and sound as they are turned.  It’s almost as if you can breathe the history in every page.  E-readers are sterile; they hold no personality.  They cannot be signed.  They have no history.

The print book is too inconvenient.  Plastic readers are so much better.

Print books have survived the ages.  The ability to read one isn’t dependent on battery power.  A real book never ‘dies’.  It’s never unaccessible.  It will never suffer a ‘glitch’.

Why all of a sudden is there a ‘need’ to carry around so many books at one time when you can only read a couple at a time?  I hear people say all the time “I have more books on my Kindle than I will be able to read in my lifetime.”  Why?  Because you have a device that allows it?  The way I see it, though, is you don’t really have 1,000 books.  You have a portable computer that can store 1,000 virtual books.  That is not the same as having a book.

I agree that in some circumstances (people in war zones, hospitals, people who travel a lot, etc.) e-readers are a God-send.  But to the rest of us?  Do you know how many people I’ve talked to in the past week who have eliminated their real books all together  and replaced them with virtual ones?

And how can an author who wants print books of his/her own to sign, say it’s too inconvenient to carry around a  print book?  That seems contradictory.

So many people say print books will never go out of style.  That’s what they said when cd’s and digital cameras emerged and look what happened to vinyl records and Eastman Kodak.

To me, virtual books are like virtual pets.  You can collect them without needing to take care of them, without giving them a place of honor in your home, without being particular about the ones you buy or the ones that will provide you years of enjoyment.  Instead, we purchase plastic products that can hold a multitude of virtual words that can be deleted – not passed on – with the push of a button.  How horrible it is to me to know words can be discarded in such a manner, tossed aside, obliterated instead of given to someone else who may find joy in their meaning.

The written word crawls within my belly and my heart.  It tugs at my soul, my very being.  ‘Deleting’ an author’s words with the push of a button is almost sacrilegious.  I have several autographed books and holding them in my hands means more to me than  a million virtual words stored on a plastic device.  Just knowing the author physically touched those pages fills me with a joy no e-reader can give.

I will never consider it ‘inconvenient’ to carry around a print book.  It is an honor to do so, and one I will proudly hold onto and display until the day I die.  For me, Kindles and the like are great extensions to reading, but I am heart-broken when I discover people are eliminating real books from their homes.  Of course, each person is entitled to their own ideals, but I could never imagine my home without tangible books.

Related Articles

How to combat book piracy

Over the past couple of months many authors I know, either personally or through social media sites, have been the victims of book piracy.  Tens of thousands of dollars have been stolen from multiple authors through acts of piracy.   While I believe e-books are easier and probably more readily stolen, hardbacks and paperbacks equally fall victim to unscrupulous scanners.

What steps can you take to combat book piracy?   Continue reading “How to combat book piracy”

“P” is for Publishing – It’s no longer a ‘romantic’ industry

Hi, everyone!  This post is part of the A-Z challenge. Please take time to visit the other blogs that are participating.

We all know the publishing world is turning upside down, and don’t let anyone convince you that the industry is dead.  

The numbers I read from Bowker reports  dated April 4, 2010, and May 18, 2011 are astounding:

247,777 books were published in 2002
266,322 in 2003
295,523 in 2004
282,500 in 2005
296,362 in 2006
407,646 in 2007
561,580 in 2008
1,335,475 in 2009
3,092,740 in 2010

At this rate there could be tens of millions of ISBN numbers issued in 2012. Did you get that? Tens of millions of possible books!

The number is mind-boggling, and you know as well as I, those books aren’t coming out of the Big 6.  This means most of the influx (even if only half of are published) will come from self-published authors.   This saddens me to a certain degree.  Many years ago, it meant something to say you were a published author.  It was romantic.  You were looked upon with a certain respect.  You were special.  Unique.  After all, not everyone had a way with the written word.

Not anymore.

Now, thanks to Lulu, CreateSpace and Amazon (among others), anyone can be published, whether they have talent or not.   There’s nothing special about being published anymore.   If you have a thousand bucks in your pocket and words thrown into a .pdf file, you can be published.  That’s not to say there aren’t some good self-published books out there.  There are, but the self-gratification process negates the romantic element of being published…the being picked.

There is something romantic about a publisher choosing a particular short story or novel for publication.  After all your time, hard work and persistence, someone notices and thinks you’re pretty darn special.  Your publishing ‘soul mate’ has picked you, YOU, out of the millions of hopefuls, to represent.  It’s romantic.  It’s exhilarating.  You won!  Your ‘voice’ spoke above all the others.

Where is the romance with self-publishing?  You plunk down your hard-earned money, gratify your needs, and then congratulate yourself for a job well done.  I will admit there are some lucky self-published authors who sell lots of books, but those are few and far between.

And what is with this eBook stuff?  I know it’s the wave of the future, but where’s the romance of pointing to something on a screen and saying, “I wrote that”?  Imagine giving birth to a baby and never being able to hold it, touch it.  All you can do is look at it on a screen and say “I created that.”  I know this is an extreme example, but there’s not much difference to me.  These are my words, my creations.  I want to touch them, see them.  I want to autograph a complete novel, not a cover page. To me, digital isn’t real.  It isn’t physical.  It’s not the actual work.  It’s cold. It’s cyber.  It’s not romantic.

I fear tangible proof of an author’s work will someday vanish completely, like so many other crafts.  Physical books will be found only in museums or private collections.  They’ll be rare, but you know what?  They’ll be real.  They’ll outlast the Kindles and Nooks, and you’ll never have to worry about out-dated software.  All you’ll ever need with a tangible book are your eyes and imagination.  And when you’re done, all you have to do is pass the books on for someone else to enjoy.  No worrying about copyright infringement or too many downloads  per ‘license’ or ‘share’ rights.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think this old-fashioned, romantic girl is going to keep it ‘real’. I know there’s a publisher out there who’s going to think I’m special, and my writing will find a home.  All I have to do is hold out and wait.  Be patient.  The best is yet to come.