ILP acquires Carman's Skeleton Creek series

ILP acquires Carman's Skeleton Creek series

International Literary Properties (ILP), the global company that acquires and manages literary estates, has acquired Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek series.

ILP negotiated an IP and revenue acquisition with an ongoing revenue stream going directly to the author. Molly Cusick (pictured), vice-president, literary, shared the news during The Bookseller's Children's Conference on 22nd September. Cusick was speaking during a session called “It’s a marathon, not a sprint: Extending the life of a book post-Covid”.

Skeleton Creek, an immersive middle-grade mystery and horror series set in a small former mining town, is described as “a groundbreaking multimedia experience using alternating videos and text”. Originally published from 2009 to 2014, sales of the series had started to slow in recent years before ILP acquired the copyright for it last summer, the organisation said.

ILP’s investment has seen a website relaunch with new content and search engine optimisation (SEO), strategic marketing to expand the audience beyond middle school readers, and enhanced classroom resources for teachers and librarians. Carman has provided bonus stories for the website and a short series of videos on urban legends.

So far, this activity has led to a 1,000% uplift in website traffic, a significant increase in orders for high school classes, and an overall royalty growth of 58% year on year, ILP said.

Cusick said: “The pandemic has proved a challenge for selling backlist titles that aren’t yet at classic status, but by treating backlist like frontlist this can be overcome. At ILP, we felt that Skeleton Creek was greatly deserving of a broader audience. After we acquired the series, we set out to increase awareness and discoverability among key decision makers, including teachers, librarians and trusted adults in children’s lives. Central to this was creating resources to eliminate hurdles for teachers to use the books in the classroom, optimising SEO, and reframing the series as perfect for reluctant readers and teens through purchasing advertising keywords.

"Not only is it a wonderful thing to support an author long after publication, but there is also money to be made from this strategy: ILP found that a small financial investment paid dividends with substantial growth in royalties in the last year.”

Skeleton Creek joins a growing number of properties and estates owned and managed by ILP, including Georges Simenon and Margery Allingham.