Books on Tape, Large Print Books, Book Club Selections, Digital Editions…Are you aware authors may have split these rights with their publishers, meaning the publisher has to pursue them? Readers often ask me why I don’t put my books into audio or why they aren’t available for a book club choice through the mail. I have to explain that it’s up to my publisher to obtain these deals. Unless my agent retains 100% of these rights in my contract, I don’t have any say in this matter. And our retaining these rights isn’t always the best choice.
Publishers deal in volume and have more widespread contacts, so they may be in a better position to sublicense those rights. Sometimes that means they’ll push their favorite authors or their bestsellers and the rest of us midlisters get dreck, but there isn’t anything we can do about it. Don’t you think all authors would love to see their books on audio, made into a film, or available to book clubs nationwide? And even if we could pitch them ourselves, not all of us have the skill or the connections. A bigger agency with a subrights division could do it, but they’d probably be interested in the same thing as the publisher: push their bestselling authors. And there’s a reason for that. I once queried an audio publisher myself. Their response: they only take on bestselling novels. So it’s a self-perpetuating issue.
What can you as a reader do about it? Write to the author’s publisher about how much you’d like the book in xxx format. Put up good reviews on all the online reader sites. Hand out the author’s bookmarks to your friends, libraries, and local reading groups. Suggest their book as your local book club selection. And keep buying the author’s newest release or insist that your librarian order it. It’s the sales figures that count. So if it takes a bestseller to obtain subrights, who else to better help the author get there than her fans?