By Natalie Bright

One of my 2015 writing goals was to find a home for a self-published eBook about grief based on our experience of dealing with the loss our first born son. A small press expressed interest. While I waited for the contract, I schooled myself on understanding the rights that I’d be willing to relinquish for a traditional publishing deal.

 What are You Willing to SIGN AWAY?

Publishing companies have to make money. I totally understand how this big business works. They are able to make money via manuscripts produced by writers. It’s a fascinating and frustrating industry, mixing the creations of our hearts with hard, cold finance, but that’s the reality.

Consider the prestige of having a publisher choose YOU. It is very exciting and does wonders for your ego, and then consider what you might be giving away. In my research, I learned that some publishers take rights that they never exploit, and perhaps never intend to. For example, a small, local press may not have the resources to sell your book in multiple languages so why would you grant, transfer and assign all of your foreign rights?

Here’s a sample list of possible rights already owned by you as creator and that are associated with your work:

Hardback editions

Paperback editions

Electronic rights

First world English rights

British, European, or Australian rights

Translation rights, or language rights

Exclusive use rights

Publication or sale by book clubs

Reprint rights

Publication in digests

Publication in condensations

Publication in anthologies

Publication in compilations

Serial rights

Dramatic, multimedia, television, and motion picture rights

Internet distribution rights

Archival rights

eBooks, Kindle, Nook, and other electronic distribution rights

Audio, mechanical, and visual reproduction

Computer programs



Microfilm editions

Syndication rights

Permission rights for quotations, excerpts, illustrations

Merchandising rights

Any media hereinafter created


For more information, there’s a great article at by Marg Gilks, “Rights: What They Mean and Why They’re Important.”

Check out for several excellent podcasts with Joanna Penn on this topic and loads of other topics relating to Indie Publishing. Her FREE Author 2.0 Blueprint is full of helpful information.

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