Making the rights impact

Making the rights impact

As the rights-selling frenzy opens its doors, traders will be looking to get the most bang for their buck—and time—during this year’s London Book Fair. Clare Hodder shares her four top tips for doing so..

London Book Fair has arrived, and rights folk will be making their way to the halls bright and early. They will have crammed more appointments than ever before into their crazy schedules, and be carrying bags stocked with rights guides, copious pages of customer notes, tissues, hand-gel and Nurofen.

You’d be hard pushed to find busier (or better prepared) people anywhere in the fair. Whether you are a first-time rights seller or a seasoned professional, it’s important to ensure your meetings yield results. Here is our guide to making the most of rights meetings.

Know your content. With the number of books being published, it can be hard to be familiar with every title. It is also unnecessary. A good rights system will help you filter your list, using relevant criteria (subject matter, length, publication date, availability of rights, etc.) to give you a starting point from which you can refine. You should have a curated list of titles that you think you have a realistic chance of selling to the customers you will be seeing at the fair. For each title on your list, do your homework, make sure you know: why it’s relevant; what it’s about; who the author is (and why that matters); what the USPs are; and any other relevant information that might pique a customer’s interest. If you can present your titles confidently and enthusiastically, you’re halfway there.

Get to know your customers. It can be helpful to have information to hand about your customer’s company, market and products, as well as what they have purchased previously. But that will only take you so far. Before diving into your pitch, it’s worth spending time getting to know, or getting reacquainted with, your customer. Part of the joy of rights-selling is developing relationships with customers, some of which will last a lifetime. Book fairs are often the only time you are face to face with them, so grasp the opportunity, find out the role they play in their organisation, and the sorts of projects that get them excited. It will benefit you both.

Pitch flexibly. Having spent time getting to know your customer and understanding what their needs are, you will be in a good position to pitch your titles. Only pitch those you genuinely believe might work for them. A rights pitch should be interactive. Talk to your customer about the title and invite feedback. Make your pitch relevant by high-lighting information that specifically meets the objectives your customer has shared with you. There is every possibility that in your carefully curated list of titles, there is nothing suitable for the person in front of you. That’s OK. Maybe there is a backlist title that would work, or perhaps they can tell you more about their market or other potential licensees you could approach. With a flexible approach to meetings you can build credibility and trust with your customer, both valuable commodities in rights-selling.

Take meticulous notes. It’s impossible to remember every conversation from every meeting, so you will be reliant on your notes. Approaches include: annotating rights guides, typing directly into a rights system or notes app, and furiously scribbling in a notebook. Do whatever works for you. At a minimum, note titles of interest and what the customer wants you to send them next, as well as checking the contact details you have for them are up to date. Quickly translating those notes into action is key to turn "expressions of interest" into revenue.

At the end of the day, those who prepare well reap the biggest rewards, converting all of those conversations into meaningful relationships and signatures on contracts, both at this fair and many more to come.