Alright, today we're talking about Subsidiary Rights, which I know much less about than my agent. On top of that, my brain is kind of foggy because I have the worst cold ever . . . so if none of this makes sense, it might just be me . . . or it might just mean you need an agent.;)
Sub-rights really are fairly complex, but we'll try to simplify it a bit. And we're going to assume we're talking about books rights, since this is my blog and I can, Ha!;) Let's assume you have an agent who is shopping your book and you've received an offer from a publisher. This is where sub-rights start. As anyone would, the publisher wants as much of your book as they can get for as little as they can pay. (I'm not saying this is bad, it's just business.) So generally the publisher will submit a ground-level offer and ask for world rights.
Now you have a choice. First off, you might be asking, what are these World Rights of which you speak? World rights means that the publisher has the right to print your book anywhere in the world and in any language. Sound good? Maybe it sounds bad? Either way, you're right.:) A lot of deals get made for World Rights. It really can be a great deal. The publisher will usually pay more for World Rights and more is generally good:). Also, if you are with an agent who is either part of a very small house or runs a solo operation, they may not have enough foreign rights connections to exploit your translation rights as profitably as the publisher can. (Note, this is not always the case--many solo agents have awesome foreign rights connections.) World Rights are also a great way for your agent to negotiate a higher advance, or maybe more upfront.
However, you don't want to offer World Rights without a good reason. Those are your rights and you should be compensated for them. Several authors I know have sold either North American or World English Rights and been able to sell Foreign Rights so profitably they doubled their original advance from their English publisher. *Story Time!* When HC made their original offer, I didn't even think about World Rights until Jodi said that they had asked for World Rights and she advised me not to give them. Hadn't even crossed my mind. (Personally, I'd have jumped at the first offer and given them whatever rights they wanted. Thank goodness for Jodi.:)) But Writers House has an excellent Foreign Rights department and Jodi didn't think HC had put enough on the table to justify World Rights in light of that, so she advised me not to give World Rights.
So what can you give them if you want to keep your World Rights? The standard answer used to be North American Rights. (That's the NA you see at the end of a lot of Publishers Marketplace announcements.) Jodi surprised me again and told me that she has been doing a lot of deals lately for World English Rights. That means that the publisher can print your book anywhere in the world in English and you are left with all translation rights. Basically that clears up any misunderstandings regarding where the UK is officially and where Canadian rights end and Australian rights begin and other silly things.:) North American Rights are just what they sounds like: the US, Canada, and Mexico. (I'm not sure if this includes a Spanish Translation for Mexico, so if anyone knows that for sure, they can chime in.:))You can also offer things like Audio and Electronic rights (not to mention movie rights), but we'll get into that next time.