SYP LDN Career Cafe – Tips & Tricks for your first 5 years in Rights

Posted on October 2, 2020 in London

Getting a foot through the publishing door can be tricky. Entry-level positions can be few and far between and knowing how to put yourself in the best stead to get your teeth into a role can be daunting. Thankfully, London’s #SYPCareerCafe series is deciphering all that confusion and asking publishing professionals at every level what we need to know to start our careers in… Rights.
Cast your mind back to sunnier days when the evenings weren’t itching to get dark by dinnertime. A Career Café throwback for you now!
On the 30th July 2020, chaired by SYP London’s very own Elle Brenton-Rounding ( @_elbr ), who works as a Senior Rights Executive at Little Tiger Group, we gathered around our Zoom screens to listen to all things Rights.
So, let’s meet our amazing panellists:
We listened to the advice and experiences of Nathaniel McKenzie ( @silveried ) who works as an Editorial and Rights Assistant at Profile Books. McKenzie is responsible for managing audio and large print rights for all of Profile’s imprints as well as the firm’s attendance at major international book fairs.
Oda Siqveland ( @odasiq ) also gave us her insights into working in Rights. Siqveland works as a Rights Executive at Springer Nature, working on 3000+ journals. She has a BSc in Business Administration and an MA in Publishing. Her first job in publishing was working on an administrative project for Palgrave Macmillan.
Saidah Graham ( @Saidah08 ) works as a Rights Assistant at Bonnier Books.
Nathaniel Alcaraz-Staplenton ( @hernandez108 ) is Head of Rights at Hachette Ireland. He was also a #SYPAhead Mentor in 2019!
So, what were their top tips for working in Rights?

  • Top skills? Rights is a really varied department! You might be working in rights or permissions or translations which all require slightly different skills! However, our panellists did agree that being detail-orientated is crucial when working on contracts. Be inquisitive; ask your colleagues what certain clauses mean and if you speak another language, amazing! While it isn’t a necessity, if the opportunity to travel appears, speaking in the native language when you’re liaising with someone overseas is going to allow you to develop a way better relationship with them!
  • Get to know your colleagues! As in almost every aspect of publishing, you’ll work best when you know who you’re working with. Whether it’s an agent, an author, a colleague overseas or over a table at a Book Fair, learn a bit about the people you work with and you’ll know what to pitch to them and what just isn’t their cup of tea!
  • Don’t kick yourself if you don’t know the legal stuff! Almost everyone in publishing will come from a different background, whether that’s English Literature or Journalism, Business or STEM. Most of us start in Rights without any knowledge of the legal stuff. While a lot of us learn on the job, if you want to get a head-start, see if you can find any online media law courses to learn the jargon before you jump in the deep end.
  • Head to a Book Fair! (Let’s pretend COVID doesn’t exist for a second.) The annual book fairs in London, Frankfurt and Bologna are some of the biggest and most exciting congregations of publishing professionals in one place each year. While COVID has ruined much of the fun this year, these are usually amazing opportunities to network and pick the brains of people in the industry.

Is there anything else you’ve like to ask about Rights? Send your questions to @SYP_LDN with the #SYPCareerCafe and we’ll get back to you!
We may have seen the last of our #SYPCareerCafe events for now! But don’t worry – we’ve still got our monthly book club on 5th October discussing Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and our Turning the Page SYP Conference in November! Follow #SYPConf20 for all the updates as they are released!
Take care!