Kalpana Sharma recently spent a few days working in the Rights and Permissions team at Cambridge University Press and learnt about the varied role that they play. What did she discover?
On my first day, I dealt with some ‘Showrounds’ which are the Product Information sheets created by the marketing and sales departments. They contain book titles, authors and interests. An interest suggests whether there are any co-edition publishers interested in translating the book into another language.
Working as part of the Rights team, I fed this data into the their database so that whenever that product is available, an acknowledgement e-mail is sent to a potential co-edition publisher to see whether they are interested. If there is interest then a contract is drawn up and the Rights team start the process of selling the translation rights. Primarily, this will be exclusive rights.
When the contract is ready, a letter is sent to the author who – most of the time – are happy for their book to be translated into the other languages.
I also learnt that a foreign co-edition publisher is asked to send at least two copies of the final product to the original publisher; Cambridge University Press. The Rights team will check these for quality and make sure that the translated version has the original publisher’s logo.
In addition, I learnt about how to deal with the permission requests. If an author or publisher wants to use a few chapters, a quotation, or an image of a Cambridge University Press product then they need the relevant permissions; the permission requests team deal with these enquiries. This team commonly sell ‘non-exclusive’ rights, but aren’t involved in the marketing.
Working in Rights also means getting involved with the marketing of the product. I was involved with making the Rights catalogue for upcoming products. This involved collecting accurate information about the product such as book title, author, page number, date, an image of the product, and the prices.
Rights catalogues and leaflets are taken into book fairs and used during business trips when meeting foreign publishers. When the team organise a trip abroad, the preparation starts months earlier. I was able to help in this process and had to consider the following:
- A list of interested publishers needs to be prepared.
- The location of each publisher needs to be planned on a map along with the best route.
- Information is needed about the public transport system and how the team will get around.
I really enjoyed this internship as it gave me an insight into the role of the Rights department within a large publishing house. It was quite fascinating to know the differences between the Rights and Permission teams.