the ceo magazine, publishing,
Kim Staflund, Founder & Publisher, Polished Publishing Group

According to renowned American businessman and investor, Robert Kiyosaki, an “Asset can be anything as long as it has value, produces income or appreciates, and has a ready market. Assets put money IN your pocket.” Before Kiyosaki’s popular Rich Dad Poor Dad book was published, many of us viewed our homes as our assets. But we now realize, so long as we’re paying a mortgage on it, our home is actually our bank’s asset. It is producing an income for the bank first and foremost. This same concept applies when it comes to your book and how it was published.

Copyright Simplified

As the original creator of your manuscript, you own 100 percent of all of the rights to reproduce, publish, sell, and distribute your words in whatever manner you see fit. Your manuscript belongs to you and you alone—from the moment you write it. It is only when you decide to publish your manuscript into book format that the copyright ownership of your work might shift to someone else, depending on which publication method you choose. In other words, you might take a few different routes toward having your book published, and each of these methods affects your copyright ownership a little differently.

Traditional (Trade) Publishers

Trade publishers are business people who are buying a product to turn a profit for themselves, and that “product” is the copyright ownership of your manuscript. In this business model, writers usually retain only the basic publishing rights that recognize them as the author of the book and allow them to be paid a small percentage of the retail price in royalties. The trade publisher keeps the remainder as the owner of the book. Thus, that publisher also reserves the right to sell off additional rights for additional profit down the road, which makes your book the trade publisher’s asset.

Vanity Publishers

When choosing the vanity publishing route to self-publish a book, you usually retain 100 percent ownership of your written words; however, if the vanity publisher has produced the cover artwork for you, that company often retains the copyright of that artwork. This means you must always go through the vanity publisher to have your marketing materials and books printed, which makes your book the vanity publisher’s asset.

Hybrid Publishers

Last but not least, you can also choose the hybrid (supported self-publishing) route. Think of a hybrid as a skilled project manager for self-publishing authors that guides you through the full professional process from conception to publication. In this business model, you usually retain 100 percent copyright ownership of both your words and your artwork, which ensures the book remains your asset.

Eventually, once you’re selling lots of books and making a name for yourself with the general population, you’ll begin to see the true value of retaining majority (i.e., FULL!) copyright ownership—because this is when more business people will come knocking and asking to buy additional rights to your book. What are all these rights worth? In any industry, a thing is worth what someone will pay for it. It could be worth millions to the primary owner of the book, so it’s a good idea to retain as much, if not all, of that ownership as you can right from the start.

Related reading: What Could Surrendering Your Copyright Potentially Cost You?


About the Author

Kim Staflund is a bestseller author, sales coach, and founder/publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG). She is the author of How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell it Worldwide Based on Value, Not Price! released in 2014.

In addition to her book publishing background, Staflund has a substantial sales and sales management history that includes new business development, account and personnel management and leadership experience. Connect with Kim Staflund on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Kim's books are available in both paperback and ebook format through choice booksellers all around the world. Booksellers can order them in via Ingram Content Group.

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