How can one know when literary works rights have been sold?
Thread poster: Annabelle Larousse

Annabelle Larousse  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 05:45
French to English
+ ...
Jul 14, 2009

Dear Friends, I have a question to ask and may not be on the right forum. If not, perhaps the moderator will put it where it belongs.

The question is, how to find out whether a publisher has sold translation rights to a foreign publisher. I am speaking of literary works, and it would be a situation where you would suspect that the foreign rights have already been sold but the work in question has not actually been published in translation. As those who have experience with publishers know, publishers can be very slow, and once they have the rights to a work it can be quite some time before the work appears on the market.

So, if you want to know if the rights have been sold, how do you go about it? Apart from approaching the original publishers, that is, is there any way that anyone knows of?

I would be very grateful if anyone could give me any ideas. Many thanks, and all the best to one and all.


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jombig
Local time: 06:45
German to English
+ ...
Original Publisher or Author's Agent Jul 15, 2009

Although the subsidiary rights department at a publisher may take its time to get back to you, it is the best starting point for finding out who holds the translation rights for a specific language on a work. Generally, the answer will either direct you to another publisher, a subsidiary rights agent or the author's agent. Although it is more time consuming, the original publisher or the author's agent (depending on who controls the translation rights) can give you a definitive answer, most other sources cannot.

If you are looking for an alternative source of "rights sold" many publishers add a rights sold element to their catalogs for the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. It is not complete and the data is also likely to change during the course of the fair, but it is a potential source. Similiarly, some exhibitors at the fair indicate the rights availability for upcoming books in the online rights catalog run by the fair. (see www.buchmesse.de for more info) This resource has a premium and limited accessibility. The publisher and author's agent are usually the one's inputing this information, this just lets you get around waiting for a response if the work is listed.

Some authors also maintain good websites and include subsidiary rights sales info on it, if they keep themselves informed. But I will repeat, only the publisher or author's agent can give you a definitive answer. It will generally be a bit of a hunt, but then the next time it will be easier. As somebody at the publisher may recognize your name or be otherwise able to help or you may have put yourself on their catalog mailing list and get the most update info regularly. Or the agent may know that rights in your language have been sold, but the publisher is looking for a translator. You never know.


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Annabelle Larousse  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 05:45
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Jul 15, 2009

Dear jombig, many thanks for your post. It was good of you to take the time, especially with such a lengthy post. I find this information very useful. I am learning bit by bit, so thanks very much for your help.

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How can one know when literary works rights have been sold?

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