What is IP?

ok I'll bite

Hey Friends,

So, the ~~discourse~~ this week on book twitter has been about IP projects. Publishing people know all about this, but many others—most?—do not. Here’s an explainer to understand Twitter but also for your general knowledge!

What is IP?

IP stands for Intellectual Property, and in this usage usually means IP that is not yours. When you conceive of and write a book, that’s your IP. When another entity does that, that’s their IP. This includes but is not limited to copyright.

So, it’s like Star Wars books and stuff.

Yes! And many other things. But it’s not just big movie or TV franchises or things like that. And that’s where all the dramz came into play on Twitter. There are many, many, many books out there, for all ages, that are technically IP projects, but you’d never know it because it looks…..just like any other book!

Many books come about because an editor has idea for a book and the publishing house loves that idea and the editor finds a writer to write it and then it goes through the whole normal publishing process. In this case, though, the publisher, not the author, owns the IP, copyright, and all other rights to the book. The author most times, but not always, gets their name on the cover and are presented as the author (pssst, because they are the author).

Nice! How do you get these jobs?

Well, editors have to know your writing. It could be they know you from the internet or journals or comics or other books you’ve published. Because editors have to already know your work, it’s likely you’ve been published and likely you have an agent. It’s not required, but that’s how it usually happens. You have to findable.

There are some companies that do IP as their whole thing (remember Alloy? Remember that thing James Frey did, is still doing?). These book packagers find writers with or without agents and then they sell the books to publishers with the writers attached. They, like editors at traditional houses, have to be able to find you. They don’t really put out open calls afaik.

I have a great idea for a Star Wars book. Can I pitch it to someone?

I’m afraid not. These things come from the top down.

Is IP good or bad?

I think it is very, very, very good! IP has launched the whole careers of some of my clients. Working with some licensed properties has been a dream come true for others. It’s the bread and butter of still others. And it’s across genre—I do IP deals for adults and kids, illustrated and prose, in fiction and cookbooks and craft books and gift books and all kinds of things. I mean, I did three IP deals this week.

Are they real books?

What? Get out of here with that mess. Of course they’re real books. Real writers write real words on real computers and real readers read them. Why wouldn’t they be ~~real~~ books? (I know what some people think is the answer to that question and to that I say <eyeroll emoji>.)

So, I hope that clears it up! I wish you all the IP projects of your dreams!

Wearing a mask,