Author career · Feature · Interview · publishing

Pub Life #5: Knowledge is Power – Contracts & Rights

Through our Pub Life posts, Writer’s Block Party will be hosting guests and contributors who talk about their jobs within the publishing industry. There are many more career paths in publishing than a lot of people realize, and we’re so excited to spotlight a few of them for you guys!

Today, we’re excited to share with you our interview with Janella Angeles, a Contracts & Rights Assistant at Candlewick!

1. What is your title and what do you do at your job?

My official title is Contracts & Rights Assistant. Meaning, I help out with all the boring stuff…

Just kidding. Being a Contracts & Rights Assistant has me constantly on my toes. Primarily, I handle permissions-related matters (which I go into more detail below!), assist with book licensee mailings and presentations, review sublicensed proofs of our titles, alert authors of what rights have been sold for their books and send cool foreign editions that accompany them, register books for copyright, and lots more! Each day looks different, so never a dull moment.


2. What are subrights and permissions? Are they usually handled by the publisher or by agents?

First off, subrights refers to those rights that can be sublicensed and sold in ways that either adapts, translates, reformats, or is simply derived from the original work—meaning, serial rights, anthology/quotation rights, audio rights, foreign rights, merchandise rights, tv/film rights, etc. In contract negotiations, the author and publisher will each retain certain rights to the work depending on what was ultimately negotiated in the deal. THIS is where permissions comes in! Depending on which rights you retain, YOU are the one who essentially holds the permission power of its use.


For example, say a book blogger wants to display two interior spreads for a picture book they wish to write a promotional review for. The blogger asks for permission to display the images, and if (according to the contract) my company has retained the subright to allow this use, then I draft a formal permission letter with the copyright/credit line for the blogger to include in their post—and voila! Permission granted. *confetti canon*


3. What do you like about your job?

What’s really great about my job is that I learn a lot about the inner workings of contracts, which I feel is vital information to know as a writer on the path to publication. I’ve become familiar with certain jargon, terms, and other important concepts I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise had I not fallen into this field, and the Ravenclaw in me is ALL about how knowledge is power.


I also especially love how working in contracts and rights by day still helps me retain the creative energy to write at night (and during mornings). A lot of times working in publishing can be draining for a writer, but I feel that my job strikes the perfect balance for me where I can go to the office to work in the business of books while coming home to my own writing and novels at the end of the day.


4. In regards to rights (serial rights, anthology/quotation rights, audio rights, foreign rights, merchandise rights, tv/film rights), is there any particular one that has been most fascinating to learn about and if so, why?

Of course the rights nerd in me says that they’re ALL fascinating to learn about! But ones that I’m involved in quite frequently that have surprised me revolve around the rights that reprint/reformat the book into different editions (i.e. reprint in hardcover or paperback, audio, large print, etc)! You know those Scholastic flyers and school book fairs that we all loved as kids? In that vein, if another publisher/licensee offers to reprint one of my company’s titles for their fairs and catalogs, then it’s one of my responsibilities to review their versions to ensure that it reflects the original work accurately before going to print!

Meaning, I get to read a whole lot of books on the job.

I’ve reviewed covers, picture books, full on novels, large print editions, and even get to watch audio-visual interpretations of titles to make sure art and text match up. It’s a great way to know my company’s titles better, and just a fun break away from contracts and constant emails!


Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us, Janella!

You can follow Janella on Twitter @janella_angeles!

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