The Rights Guide with Nyasha Oliver
By Chelsea Graham
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your previous experiences and your current role in the industry?
I’m Nyasha Oliver. I used to be a Rights Assistant within Macmillan Children’s Books in Pan Macmillan, particularly for the Asia and Eastern Europe market. I also volunteered at SmashBear Publishing as a Social Media Marketing Intern and wrote pieces for Bad Form Review and bigblackbooks. I now work for the media publication, Monocle, within the Editorial Department.
What were your motivations for creating the How To Get into Publishing: Introduction to Rights guide?
My motivation was just to help publishing hopefuls struggling to find a job in publishing, just like I did. When I was job hunting, there wasn’t a lot of information in the industry on the rights department in comparison to the wealth of information available on the editorial, marketing, design or sales departments. There also isn’t a huge number of people from Black, Asian and other marginalised communities within this department who can give advice to publishing hopefuls. I thought about how all the useful information I had learnt could be passed onto others and started the How To Get into Publishing: Introduction to Rights guide.
Once you had the idea, where did you go from there? Was speaking to others in the industry important for you?
I began by dividing things up into chapters such as “Publishing Management Softwares,” “Contracts” and “Invoicing and Payments.” The rest of the chapters followed quickly when I wrote many drafts and then designed the guide on Canva shortly after. I was then cross-checking information with four wonderful rights professionals who I frequently talk to on social media. They have all been credited in the “Thanks To” chapter but again, I’m very grateful to Bethany, Hany, Karen and Saidah for checking the spelling, grammar and also adding their own additional advice.
What are your aims for the guide?
I would love for the guide to reach lots of publishing hopefuls and students who need some extra help to find a role within the rights department. I’m very optimistic that this guide will help a lot of people get into the industry, and so I would love to hear in the future if anyone gets into rights using the information and the advice it provides.
What is one thing that surprised you within the rights department or role when you first learnt it?
There’s quite a lot that surprised me about the role that I think is not thoroughly explained. Two things that really surprised me about rights is firstly that you are still heavily involved in sales: you’re selling rights to the books. I came from a sales background and didn’t want to get more involved in that side of the publishing process. Secondly, how involved you are with the finance, or accounts, departments. I wasn’t aware of how closely you work with them on invoicing, chasing payments and credit notes until I got the role.
Do you have any advice, having spoken with so many people on the topic, for those wanting to get into rights?
Learn the basics of WeTransfer and Excel as you will be using them quite often, the latter more as most information is stored in spreadsheets you have to keep track of. In your application, make sure you have a reason as to why you want to work within rights and what responsibilities you have experience. Everyone wants to work in the publishing industry, but what is it about rights that makes you want to apply for it?
I think there’s also a miscommunication with what skills you need in rights because quite a few people are 50/50 about whether you need to be bilingual, or multilingual, to work with rights, and my answer is no—you don’t need to be. While I do speak three languages, I noticed it’s not a necessity because you are mostly communicating in English. Don’t get discouraged from applying just for that reason!
And most importantly, read the guide!
You can find Nyasha on both Twitter and Instagram at @aoispice or visit her website here.