We are delighted to welcome Emily Bevis, Book Sales Account Executive for APAC and Translation Rights, who currently works at Emerald Publishing. In this guest interview, we asked Emily to share some insights into her role in rights and how she has found her first year working in this area of publishing, alongside her sales role.
Read on to learn more about how she has expanded her Rights knowledge and grown in confidence.
Hi Emily, welcome to The Knowledge Zone.
So, tell us how did you find yourself working in rights?
I actually joined Emerald Publishing as an administrative assistant, having had previous roles in admin before, before becoming Book Sales Executive for APAC.
About 9 months after joining Emerald, I was asked if I would be interested to work on the Translation Rights programme. I felt this opportunity was right for me as I had relevant experience in sales; customer and agent relationship management, and a personal interest in rights and translated literature.
What does your job involve?
Whilst I actively go and sell rights at The London Bookfair and Frankfurt Bookfair, plus arrange title presentations with rights agents, my predominant responsibility is still book sales.
The time spent focusing on rights differs month-to-month dependant on circumstance, opportunities, time, etc.
However, I schedule focus time every week for my work on the translation programme. This time is important to ensure I stay on top of essential admin, respond to enquiries, and keep my RightsZone records up to date.
What did you know about rights before you started this role?
Pretty much nothing!
I did a degree in History at University and, as mentioned, has some administrative experience before.
The majority of the publishing knowledge I had was from a consumer standpoint. I had an interest in reading translated literature and kept up to date with the rights updates through The Bookseller. I liked reading articles about translation deals or sold multi-media rights (i.e. film and TV).
How have you expanded your knowledge to help you with your rights role?
I have done lots of reading and lots of asking for help!
The previous rights manager left some detailed notes about the start to end process of arranging a translation agreement, so I heavily relied on these initially, until I started to feel more confident in my own knowledge of rights.
I also attended the ‘Selling Rights Short Course’ and the PLS Rights Conference in my first year to help me get a good understanding of what is involved with working in rights and selling rights too.
The short course offered me essential lessons on the rights industry, thanks to it being run by industry experts. The course also provided a wide variety of documents, tasks and previous contractual examples, which I still return to.
The Rights & Licensing Hub has been a great resource too. I have found it Important to carve out time in my month to do some reading and research.
While I receive great support from my colleagues in legal, customer operations and publishing/editorial, I work independently on the translation program. Conferences were a great opportunity to network and ask others in rights some questions. I have been repeatedly reassured that it is okay to draw on the knowledge of others working in the rights industry.
As the world of rights is continually evolving, we all often face enquiries that are new to us and so the support of others has been incredibly helpful when seeking the right response.
The RightsZone team have also answered so many of my questions. I was lucky that RightsZone was already set up with a mass of organised deal records, files and contacts which I could learn from and build on.
I have really appreciated the support I received from the RightsZone team who made me feel like no question was a silly one. In the process of explaining how to best use RightsZone, I could start to apply some of my new knowledge from the courses and saw the process start to come together.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your rights role so far?
How have you overcome them?
I certainly had a lack of fundamental knowledge on the workings of rights when I started. This affected my confidence too.
I have overcome this by throwing myself into training courses, asking questions and being bold enough to introduce myself to new contacts. I have grown my network and grown my confidence through my experience.
Another challenge was needing to grow my knowledge of my book list. As Emerald is an academic publisher, I have to be selective about which titles to present to rights buyers & agents. This has often meant thinking on my feet while in meetings after contacts discuss their developing publishing programme or market. It is important not to panic and to listen to what’s being said. I have learnt that preparation is key. My top tips
- learn your content
- ask the relevant questions
- make clear meeting notes to feedback afterwards.
When you reflect on your first year in rights, what do you feel most proud of?
I’ve recently started to see the publication of some foreign language editions that I negotiated from start to finish. I have only been in rights just over a year and with the most publication schedules being up to 18 months from contract date, it has been exciting to start to see these publications coming to fruition. It’s worth the wait!
I am also proud of my growth in my sales role too. Rights has given me the opportunity to see and understand the books publishing process from start to finish. From contract negotiation, file approval (cover design, copyright page), publication, author discussions, tracking royalties, creation of promotional material (e.g. a regular rights guide). I now understand so much more about what is involved.
I am really proud of my expanded knowledge and confidence in a relatively short time.
What advice would you give to others who are new to rights or thinking about a job role in a rights department?
My advice would be:
- Ask questions – ask lots of questions!
- Don’t be afraid to get things wrong occasionally – ask for help, learn and keep developing your knowledge.
- Keep up to date with ‘news in the rights world’ – Read The Bookseller, talk to colleagues who work in different areas of the rights business, attend conferences and seminar talks, maintain relationships with rights agents and relevant contacts too. They are the best source of information about their markets.
- Enjoy the experience and opportunities – Look forward to making new industry friends across the world (not worrying about travel or meeting new people).
- Celebrate your wins – Revel in the feeling when you finish successful negotiations and celebrate the foreign language editions with your authors when they receive their copies!
What are your priorities and plans going forward?
My priority is “everyone’s favourite thing”…I want to get a better handle on royalty management. This is an important source of revenue and needs to be effectively managed.
I am going to say yes more! I don’t want being the ‘newbie’ to stop me from getting involved – and you shouldn’t either!
I am looking forward to expanding my networking circle even further in rights too, with new rights agents, buyers and contacts. I can see that this will only lead to more opportunities, a more profitable rights programme, an increase in market knowledge and self confidence.
Thanks so much to Emily for sharing her experiences and for being so open about her challenges in her role. We are so proud that she found RightsZone a source of support, as well as knowing that we, as a team, were available to answer questions.
Her advice is excellent and reflects much of what we experience working in the world of rights too …even though it is significantly longer than a year! We are a network. We are a community. We still need to ask lots of questions. Importantly, we support and collaborate to help our authors and our businesses.
Want to learn more about how RightsZone can support your new staff members and streamline your processes? Get in touch today: firstname.lastname@example.org