What Are Sub Rights?

It’s official! I’m the audio rights director for Talcott Notch.

This means I handle the audio rights, which are part of sub rights, for our books, both frontlist and backlist. My new role brings up the question: what are sub rights?

Sub rights, or subsidiary rights, are all the other formats in which a book can be published/produced. These include foreign, serial, merchandising, film, and audio, as well as many others. When a book is acquired by an editor, a lot of the sub rights are included in the contract as well as the breakdown of royalties an author will earn when the publisher sells those rights.

As an agent, it’s my job to try and keep as many of those sub rights as I can because if we sell the rights in-house, the royalty cut is bigger than if the publisher sells those rights. We don’t have to give the publisher a part of the advance/royalties, which means a better payout for the author and agent. 

Most agencies have agents or sub-agents who handle the film, foreign, and audio rights that they retain. In our case, I handle the audio rights for Talcott Notch. This means I reach out to audio producers with our rights catalog and try to sell the audio rights for our published projects as well as our future projects. 

The process is a lot like the submission process I wrote about here. I look for audio producers working with the genres I have available, and send our rights catalog. If they’re interested in any of our titles, they’ll ask for a copy of the book. Once they have considered it, if they want to purchase the audio, we’ll negotiate a contract. If the book is backlist (meaning it has already been published), then the producers want to see sales numbers before deciding to consider the project. 

Other rights are handled in a similar fashion. The agent handling the rights (or the publisher, if they retained the rights) gets in touch with publishers, film producers, etc. in order to sell those rights. 

Sub rights are another part of agenting, and it’s great to be a part of the in-house team handling our audio rights!

xoxo Tia

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