Day in the Life: Permissions & Content Licensing Team at Penguin Random House
By Chelsea Graham
Do you enjoy spotting the huge array of books that feature in your favourite films or TV shows?
Have you ever wondered what a Permissions & Content Licensing team does? Perhaps you’ve never heard of their role! We chatted with the team at Penguin Random House about what the team does in a day – and you might be surprised at just how much fun they have!
Pollie Frances and Kate Muldowney who are Contracts and Business Affairs Assistants shared that they both spend a lot of time working through “emails, emails and more emails,” making sure to be in regular contact with both “customers, authors and agents.” Kate explains that she really enjoys “seeing a request through from the beginning to end point; gathering information, seeking author approval, quoting a fee, and finally licensing the permission usage.” Pollie noted that she also loves the side of the role which involves “drafting licences” which enables her to “contribute to someone’s work or passion with text that we all know and love here at Penguin Random House.” Pollie also works on shouting about the team via Penguin Random House social media channels, and sharing what they do with the wider industry – hoping to inspire publishing hopefuls to consider a career in content licensing. Whilst Kate mentioned that she works on “keeping detailed reports to keep track of different titles and productions [the team] has been involved with.”
Kimberley Knaggs and Andy Auton work within the team as Contracts and Business Affairs Executives on the Permissions side. Kimberley notes that the role is “very reactive in nature,” meaning they could receive requests for anything from “using extracts in other books or exams, or using books as props in films and TV.” Both Kimberley and Andy mention that they are often sharing more “bespoke or challenging” requests with the wider team to discuss their plan of action, and that they both really enjoy this level of variety. Outside of this, Kimberley also works on departmental level projects aiming to “optimise the team’s processes and come up with ways that they can work more efficiently with authors and customers.”
As the Content Licensing and Licensing Contracts Executive within Permissions, Marva Jeremiah told us that "[her] role has expanded to handle the more tricky and complex image deals. This role has opened a new door to the way we look at and handle image based requests. This area of permissions has grown to help exhibits, magazines, theatre productions, and other visual art spaces to take our authors illustrations and bring them visually to another audience." Marva notes that [she] "finds this side of the work very rewarding."
Laura Forker is the Permissions & Content Licensing Manager within the team and emphasised that “working in permissions is so much more than simply licensing rights in excerpts or illustrations from our books.” She explained how the team “get involved in so many different aspects of publishing and creative industries, with an aim to make sure as many people as possible discover our authors and their books.” She also explained how the team get involved in everything from “licensing rights to exam boards to assist in diversifying the curriculum; granting permission to production companies to feature and read from our books on TV and in film; assisting academics who are researching our archive of unpublished materials; and supporting charities such as the RNIB to make copies of our books accessible to people who are blind or partially sighted.”
Matt Blackett is the Deputy Contracts & Business Affairs Director at Penguin Random House, and if you want to read more about his publishing career, you can read our Industry Insights feature with him, here. As part of his role “supporting the management of the team, a large part of [his] day involves advising colleagues on the more complex or non-standard licensing requests that [they] receive, investigating the rights status for certain books, discussing contractual terms with authors and agents, and helping generally to ensure the smooth running of [their] day-to-day work.” Matt also explains that “wherever possible, [he] looks into ways that [they] can improve [their] processes and relationships both within Penguin Random House, and with [their] frequent licensees.”