Book Publishing – Who Gets the Rights?

Here’s an answer to an important question: Book publishing – who gets the rights?

One thing we hear all the time is about indy book publishing – who gets the rights? That’s why this is question number two in our discussion of  “Top TEN questions you should ask a publisher before committing to one” that you can see started here. Authors always want to know if, by engaging with a publisher, do they give up any of their ownership of their hard work. Let’s dive in and get some details!

Do I own 100% of the rights to my work?

Regardless of which indie publisher you choose, authors should ensure they will own 100% of the rights to their work. Most trust-worthy self-publishing organizations will do just that. This means that you can do whatever you want with your content—given certain criteria outlined in your publishing agreement, which we’ll go over in future articles.

For example, if you want to sell movie rights to your book exclusively and independently, you should be able to without the permission of your book publisher.  If you want to publish outside of the country that your currently publisher is not selling to, your book publisher should agree to that as well. You should also be allowed to translate your book into a foreign language and published on whichever platform you choose. Be sure to check the publishing agreement for the details surrounding these topics.

If an illustrator is involved in artwork creation for your book, be sure they agree to a “work-for-hire” arrangement and agree to sign a document committing to this arrangement. It should include language that states that the author owns 100% of the rights to the artwork. Artists will want to be able to use the artwork as part of their portfolio, and that is perfectly fine. They should be able to share it on their website, including social media platforms, but should agree to not re-sell the artwork to other parties. If they illustrate any part of the book cover, they are likely to agree to help promote the book, by adding it to their portfolio (website and other promotional outlets), helping both parties promote the book and the artwork.

The publisher may also agree to filing a copyright for you. This would be an important question to ask. If they don’t, you should consider filing it the same year as the publication date.  Filing for a copyright the same year as the publication date will qualify you to participate in many book award contests and other book review outlets.

When it comes to book publishing, who gets the rights is actually up to you as the creator of this work. It is crucially important that you work with someone who has YOUR best interests as a priority and will work with you to ensure that you and you alone get to enjoy the success of your genius.


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