The Life of a Book – Post-production!

Laura showing off some newly arrived books
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year
Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series
Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!


What is copyright and why is it important?

Here at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters I wear several different hats and one of these is Rights Manager. When I have my Rights Manager hat on, one of my responsibilities is to deal with all our incoming permissions requests. I also offer guidance to our authors who need to clear material for inclusion in a forthcoming publication. Before explaining how we deal with copyright, it makes sense to first explain briefly what copyright actually is.

The general rule is that “He who writes it down has the copyright”. You do not need to register your copyright; in order for something to be copyrighted it simply needs to be recorded in a permanent way, be that in the form of a book, a website, a recording, illustration or any other format. Even if the material is freely available or does not have the copyright symbol (©) alongside it, the person who originally created it will own the copyright. The copyright symbol is very useful for identifying who the copyright holder is.

Copyright differs from plagiarism and should not be confused with it. Copyright infringement is the copying of material without permission, whereas plagiarism is the copying of ideas either without attribution or with a false attribution.

Permissions table
© Laura Longworth

The copyright lies in the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. This means that ideas can be copied (of course only with acknowledgement of their origin to avoid plagiarism) but the layout, be that, for example, the exact wording or presentation of information cannot be copied without permission or substantial adaptation.

In the UK, copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the last surviving author, only after this time period can works be copied without permission. Other occasions when permission may not be required in order for material to be republished include:

  • Fair use – this is when the amount copied is an unsubstantial amount of the whole original work, an example would be a 100 word quote from a 300 page book not requiring permission to be cleared. The value of the whole original work should be taken into account: while 2 lines of a poem might seem like an unsubstantial amount, if the poem is only 6 lines long then permission is definitely required to republish!
  • Some items, such as a nutritional table on food packaging, are not copyrighted as there are only so many ways that such information can be displayed. A unique or novel way of displaying it would however be copyright protected.
  • A photograph you have taken is not necessarily your copyright. For example, if you have photographed an advertisement and the advertisement forms the main focus of the image the designer of the advertisement/company advertising will still be the copyright holder as by photographing you have made a copy and not a unique expression of the idea.
  • Some materials are termed “orphan works”. This is when, despite considerable efforts, the copyright holder is unable to be found or contacted. When orphan works are used without permission a record should be kept of the ways in which reasonable efforts have been made to contact the copyright holder.
  • In academic publishing it is common for material to be reproduced without permission if it is in the form of a review or scholarly criticism. Accreditation to the original author should, of course, be given.
  • If the work is available with a Creative Commons license then it may be usable without permission. There are different types of Creative Commons licenses, each one offering a different degree of flexibility. The meaning of each license can be checked here:

The advice we give is to make sure that you have permission to publish what you publish and if in doubt, check! We’re always happy to answer any queries you might have, however small they may seem. Look out for my next post explaining how I deal with queries as they come in.


Copyright: Enabling or Restricting Creativity?

Yesterday I went up to London for the annual Publishers Licensing Society Copyright Briefing and Open Meeting.  While the topic of copyright is perhaps not the most exciting, the day proved to be really interesting and it was particularly helpful to meet other young publishers who also work on rights and contracts like I do.

Richard Balkwill gave a thought-provoking presentation on the topic “Copyright: enabling or restricting creativity in the digital age”.  A few of the points raised and subjects to ponder on included:

  • Technology is roaring ahead and legislation is struggling to keep up.
  • Copyright is based on national law, but most information exchange is international.
  • The music industry is not an example to follow where digitalisation is concerned.
  • Google wants to “unlock the knowledge of the world”.  This paints publishers as janitors.
  • If publicly-funded research should be free, then why aren’t the London 2012 Olympics free?

Talks in the afternoon included David Lancefield explaining the economic importance of copyright and Hazel Woodward speaking on enhancing collaboration between publishers and librarians.  David spoke about how copyright is often perceived as a barrier to growth and how people want free content, but they also want quality, and the two often do not go hand in hand.  He backed up his argument that copyright payments have a big impact on low-paid content creators with several interesting statistics based on educational publishing.

He stated that secondary copyright fees represent 18% of an educational author’s income, but only 0.03% of a school’s cost base. A 20% fall in income for educational authors might result in 2870 educational works lost per year (Source: ALCS survey).  Educational publishers in the UK employ 9400 workers and make £1.2 million exchequer contributions each year.  The proposed copyright reforms could put the long-term sustainability of a value industry at risk.  We need to consider access versus innovation and investment.

While a lot of the topics covered during the day were not necessarily linked to what I do in my job, it was interesting to get a broader picture of the copyright issues that affect all sorts of authors and publishers.


Animals in clothes and other excitement at the IPG Autumn Seminar!

Yesterday Tommi and I headed up to London for the Annual IPG Autumn Seminar, which is an excellent opportunity for us to keep in touch with other independent publishers and the industry.  The day consisted of 8 short talks covering many aspects of publishing, some relevant to our area of publishing, some not so, but all were thought-provoking.

Bear in clothes

We especially enjoyed the talk on selling rights abroad.  Firstly, it was highly relevant to us as we’re always interested in working with publishers around the world to make our books as accessible as possible.  Secondly, it was a very entertaining talk as the speaker regaled us with tales of trying to sell books to inappropriate markets: apparently Italians aren’t interested in cooking with a wok; wine and olive oil were unpopular with Finns 15 years ago and Danish publishers don’t like children’s books with clothed animals!

Throughout the day there were plenty of opportunities for asking questions to the speakers and networking with other publishers, who vary greatly in size and area of publishing.  Our size means that we sit nicely between the big publishers and the very small.  This means that we’re able to share advice with smaller ones and hear about what the larger ones are doing.  We’re always pleased to hear that big publishers are often faced with comparable challenges to ours, and that we have all come up with similar solutions.
Cambridge companions?!

I’ll leave you with an excellent tip from the speaker from Cambridge University Press who was speaking about Google and search results.  She informed us that they have had enquiries from lonely hearts believing that “Cambridge Companions” is a dating site!