June 24, 2017, 2:30 p.m.

A rights manager develops and oversees publishing rights for books and related products in order to ensure that a publishing company makes a maximum profit.

This might include arranging foreign rights, as well as the sale of rights to book clubs or for reprint paperbacks, North American editions, serials and extracts, audio and electronic formats, and translations.

Rights managers coordinate the whole process, from initiating the sale of a publication to new contacts, through to ensuring that the particular publication is produced on schedule. Their work involves liaising with editors and other publishers and depending on the size of the organisation may either cover the publishing rights for a specific section, or the whole of the business.



Although the requirements of employers vary, modern language degrees can be particularly useful for rights management, particularly when dealing with translation rights.

Other relevant subjects include:

  • publishing/publishing studies
  • marketing and publishing media
  • media/electronic media.

Other common degree subjects are English and history. Subject-specific qualifications are helpful for specialist areas of publishing, for example a science qualification may give you an edge when applying to a scientific publisher.

Postgraduate study is not essential for entry to the profession but may be useful. Many people in publishing, particularly journal publishing, have a Masters degree. Courses tend to cover the whole area of publishing rather than rights management in particular, although rights management may be covered as part of the course.



You will need:

  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • commercial awareness
  • negotiation skills
  • excellent sales technique
  • the ability to identify and exploit opportunities
  • enthusiasm (for promoting titles)
  • administrative and organisational skills
  • the capacity to prioritise and manage your own workload
  • team working skills
  • time management skills and experience of working to deadlines
  • a meticulous and methodical approach
  • the ability to persuade and influence.



Opportunities vary according to the nature and size of the company you work for, but generally training is gained on the job.

The role requires the application of a variety of soft skills, such as communication and time management, which can be developed in post.

Postgraduate and professional training courses can provide a valuable background to the world of publishing and may also provide useful contacts.

There are limited opportunities for professional training, specifically in rights management as most publishing courses available through training providers, universities and colleges tend to cover areas such as proofreading, editing and production.

Generally it is the responsibility of individuals to progress their own CPD by gaining as much valuable experience as possible and working towards making new contacts.



To be a successful publishing rights manager you'll need excellent negotiating skills and the ability to make industry contacts.

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