Challenge,  Licensing

The Path Into Licensing… A Second Post

Much To Learn…

But not impossible amounts.

First, you start by learning copyright and licensing. For example, I assume everyone reading this knows that when you create a work in a form, you give birth to a copyright on that work. Automatically. (There are reasons to register, but a topic for another time.) That copyright is called an IP (Intellectual Property). It is a property and it does have value.

Some of you realize that when you put a book on Amazon to get out to readers electronically, you are licensing that story to Amazon, and in return, they license it to customers. The license agreement is the terms of service you agree to.

When you put a paperback up on Amazon to sell, you have a license agreement with them to sell your object (the paperback) to a customer. Selling a paperback to a customer is a sale of the object, not the copyright inside the object.

So indie writers are dealing a lot with licensing, both in and out. All the time.

When you put a book on Amazon, you license out.

When you get a piece of artwork from Dreamstime to use on a book cover, you license in.

So Indie writers deal with license all the time. (Sadly, traditional writers sell almost all rights in their copyright to a publisher and have none of this and never get their book back.)


It is the international major trade show (not the only one around the world, but the biggest by far) where IP owners and holders go to meet others who might be interested in that IP.

As a writer, you would be attending to make agreements to license out. Those in the booths often do both, license in and out. Some booths, such as the Burroughs booth and a number of the art booths, exist to license out only.

WMG Publishing was there this year to learn and to do both.

So the question I had my entire first year walking the floor in 2019 (and learning and talking with all sorts of different businesses) was how do I get the licenses, the nifty things in the pages of my books, to these major businesses to take those ideas international? There are many, many ways. But it must be in a form first. Can’t just be an idea. For those of you who know copyright, you know ideas can’t be protected. So write the books.

And let me be clear here. An indie writer can do this major licensing to major corporations easily. Even if you only have one series. You just have to know how is all.

So in the Master Business Class, I will have a bunch of videos about this, and in the licensing class.

But let me start a checklist right here of some very, very basics.

1… Do you have at least 20 major books out for sale, some in a series? If not, keep writing, but start learning all this now.

2… If you have a lot of books, start opening your eyes and looking at things without discounting your own work. For example, today in a mall, I walked by what was a sort of Pop-Up store right in the middle of the traffic. It was jammed full of toys, purses, phone holders, stuffed animals, and about a hundred other products. ALL OF THEM LICENSED PRODUCTS from various brands and licenses, some of which had originally started from books or comics. Instead of thinking, I’ll never get any of my series to those, I looked at the booth for ideas. Two or three of my series easily could be there in different forms. Open your eyes. Don’t discount your own work.

3… Get to the Licensing Expo to just spend three days wondering the show and talking with people, listening, asking questions, and so on. You own IP. You need to start to understand what that IP could be worth. Most of the companies there are wanting to find the next hot IP.

That’s a start. There will be more coming. But to start you need those three things at least.

Learn copyright. Keep writing and creating more and more IP.

And look to the future.

Licensing is always future thinking, always working to get products out to consumers around the world. It is not something that can be done quickly. But it can be done from your series, your IP, or mine.

So the very first thing many of you reading this blog need to do to start on this road is step out of the last two years. Look forward, not back. Believe in your own writing, and face forward. Lots to learn, but it is possible.

And great fun.


  • Jason M

    Thanks Dean. It’s very helpful in this DIY universe to remember that a book is only the starting point for a small constellation of licensing opportunities, all of which will continue to expand.

  • Frank Theodat

    I truly appreciate these posts on licensing and copyright, Dean. There is a lot of information to unpack for sure, but there is tremendous opportunity for us as long as we are willing to invest the time to learn. Your Magic Bakery book showed me what was possible and gave me a lot to think on.

    I hope you continue to write more on these topics (copyright/licensing/IP value) in the future. Is there any reading material you recommend for young writers who want to learn more about this? There is so much information I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Appreciate your thoughts as always. Thank you!

    • dwsmith

      Oh, I will write a lot more as the mind settles and sleep returns and off and on all year. Thanks!!