Licensing rights to a local publisher is a good option for Canadian publishers looking to make their books available in Australia.
In today’s post, we provide an excerpt from our market guide, Selling Canadian Books in Australia (2017), in which market expert Michael Webster outlines the Australian rights market and its practices.
Contacting Australian Publishers and Agents
Canadian and Australian publishers have a reputation for being active at international book fairs. Building relationships with Australian publishers at international book fairs, working through a Canadian agent, and/or visiting Australia to meet local agents, publishers, distributors and/or attend conferences and writers’ festivals are still considered the best ways for Canadian publishers to meet their Australian counterparts and get a sense of the similarities and differences between the two markets and the commercial opportunities open to both.
- While each publisher/distributor will have a different view, most Australian publishers would prefer stock, reprint, or adaptation licenses when dealing with Canadian publications.
- While each negotiation will be separate and may be expressed differently (as a unit price, or discount off the Canadian price), generally Australian publishers buying finished copies or reprint licenses require a mark-up of four to five times the landed price of the book. In general books, this will usually equate to 75–80% off the Canadian retail price (e.g., tax).
- Trade titles are generally licensed for the term of copyright with standard royalties generally 10% of the recommended retail price (less GST), rising to 12.5%.
- Advances are generally two-thirds of expected sales.
- For education titles, an assignment is increasingly sought, with royalties around 15% of expected revenue, paid as an advance.
- When rights are negotiated, it is usually for an agreed term, rarely below 3–5 years, depending on sales expectations, with an advance between 50–60% of expected sales.
- Co-edition terms depend on the quantities each party requires.
Trade Conferences, Sponsored Visits, and Writers’ Festivals
The major trade book exhibitions are the Australian Booksellers Association’s Conference and Trade Fair in June each year and the Leading Edge Books Conference in March when the Independent Bookseller of the Year and the Book of the Year awards are presented. The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) holds its biennial national conference in August to coincide with Children’s Book Week when the annual children’s book of the year awards are announced. The Australian Library and Information Association holds numerous special interest conferences and associated trade fairs throughout the year.
The Small Press Network’s four-day Independent Publishing Conference (IPC) is the only publishing-focused conference in Australia. Held annually in November, usually in Melbourne, it incorporates the Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA) announcement, current industry research, as well as workshops for those entering the industry.
The Australia Council for the Arts sponsors an annual Visiting International Publishers Program. In 2017 the program saw 16 publishers, editors, agents, and scouts attend an intensive week-long program of meetings, events, and industry discussions to coincide with the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Since being established in 1998, more than 230 industry professionals have participated in the program, which is said to generate around $1 million a year in international rights sales.
In addition to these conferences, trade exhibitions, and sponsored visits to Australia, writers’ festivals and other literary events have flourished throughout the country with small and large events being held in regional centres, most attracting large crowds of dedicated book buyers. The most important festivals are capital-city-based and many are part of larger arts festivals. Major ones are the Perth Writers Festival (February, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival), Adelaide Writers’ Week (March, as part of the Adelaide Festival), Sydney Writers’ Festival (May), Melbourne Writers Festival (August), and Brisbane Writers’ Festival (September). Melbourne—a UNESCO City of Literature—also houses the unique Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, which runs a year-round program of events, most them free.
Want to learn more about this market? Download the full version of our guide on Selling Canadian Books in Australia.