Who Controls Your Rights

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 04 2021

Here’s a thing that happens. An author writes and publishes 10 amazing books. They do well and the author has a really solid career and income. They were even able to quit the day job. Then the author dies. Because we all die. Who then controls the rights?

Having been in business for over 20 years it’s inevitable that BookEnds has worked with clients who have passed away. But just because the author is dead doesn’t mean the books are. Well past a book’s publication, and an author’s death, there are still rights to be sold. The market shifts and suddenly we see a surge in audio for books that are 15 years old. The market shifts again and now France wants to translate the books. Another shift and we have a request for an updated version of the book.

When you’re gone who makes those decisions? Who do I, as an agent, contact for approval and to sign the contract?

I’ve written about this before and I’ll keep writing about it. Because it matters. A will, a next of kin, an executor and someone in charge of your literary works matter. Also, where your agent or publisher should continue sending the checks matters.

I’ve had authors die with no directive not just for their literary works, but for family to know who to contact for the money, contracts, and everything else. In other words, they didn’t even know I was the agent.

So do yourself, your agent, and mostly your family a favor. Set up some files for when you die because you will die. Set up a directive not just for where the money will go and to who, but also who is in charge when good things keep happening. I promise you’ll sleep better if you do.