Browse My Site

Products & ServicesPRODUCTS & SERVICES


This Week's ScuttlebuttTHIS WEEK'S


Sharing IdeasSHARING

Interesting LinksINTERESTING

Special OffersSPECIAL


Anne Wallingford, WordSmith

People to Meet

An Interview with Cheryl Besenjak of
The Permissions Group


Titles: Director (The Permissions Group)
Publisher (copyRights© Newsletter)
Author (Copyright Plain & Simple)
Specialties: Copyright & Permissions

Interview Questions and Answers
Establishing Credentials

Q: How did you get started in the copyright/permissions field?
Cheryl: I graduated from college when I was in my 30's (I had gone to college when my children were young) and my first job in publishing came just after graduating from college. I worked in the Copyright & Permissions Department of Scott, Foresman and Company. I cleared permissions for their educational and professional titles and also handled all their matters of copyright with the Copyright Office in Washington - registration, assignments, renewals, and so forth. I spent 7 years with Scott, Foresman.

Q:Why did you become self-employed?
Cheryl: In 1990 I had a daughter, and decided to stay home with her and begin a freelance career. I sent out 40 resumes and found there was a need for my services. Since 1990, The Permissions Group has grown from me, working out of my home, to a staff of 12 (and growing) in a suite of offices. These are the fruits of the labors of the last 9 years.

Q:What exactly does your business do?
Cheryl: While the primary business of The Permissions Group is obtaining permissions for textbook projects, we can do almost anything related to copyright. We can review a manuscript for permissions and copyright situations, negotiate the rights, answer questions, show someone how to do it themselves, help find copyright holders, and so on.

Meeting Challenges

Q: What are some of the challenges you have dealt with while starting your own small business?
Cheryl: While the rewards of having your own small business are many, developing and growing a business is incredibly demanding. It takes a great deal of time, energy and money. Certainly starting a business with a new baby was a challenge! I can tell you that there were many interesting times; for example, following a crawling infant around the house while talking on a cordless phone with my editor, sitting with a Burger King crown on my head while speaking with a literary agent in New York, not to mention all the late night sessions at the computer getting caught up.

But some of the biggest challenges came when I had to decide if I wanted to expand my business. As the business grew it was too much for me to handle by myself. I had to decide whether to take on staff. Since I had the work, I decided to go ahead. Within a few years, there was the need to move out of my house and into office space.

About 3 years ago, my husband, Joe, left his "real" job and came to work in the company. It seemed like the best risk at the time. I needed more help and I didn't have the time to train anyone. Since he had lived copyright and permissions, he seemed like the best candidate for the job. He could hit the deck running. It was a good decision.

Joe has really helped us meet our goals - in addition to managing projects, he is the managing editor of copyRights©, helped greatly with the writing of my book, and is part of the company's executive committee.

Q: What motivated you to go from freelancing to owning a small business?
Cheryl: For any freelancer, they will probably need to decide if they want to do the work themselves or train and manage people and do payroll. I find the idea of growing a business very exciting. I enjoy casting a vision, developing a plan and putting it into action.

The Importance of Marketing

Q: What one factor do you consider most important for growing a small business?
Cheryl: To grow a business you need to get the word out about who you are and that you are there to meet the needs of potential clients.

Q: What steps have you taken to market The Permissions Group?
Cheryl: We have created a professional contacts database. We try to do quarterly mailings - whether it is a copyright tip sheet, letters about our services, or Christmas cards. We now have a website (, a listing in the Literary Market Place and do mailings for our seminars.

When someone calls in inquiring about our services, we send them an information pack which includes a brochure, a newsletter, additional information about the book, and upcoming seminar dates. We have truly been blessed with word-of-mouth advertising.

Looking to the Future

Q: In order to be successful in life or in business, one must have long-range plans. What is your next goal?
Cheryl: What is the next goal for The Permissions Group? We would like to spend the next few years gradually expanding our permissions research base of business. There is a need out there for our services.

Q: What must you do to achieve this goal?
Cheryl: I would like to add to our staff of permissions researchers (those who obtain permissions). I see us stepping up our marketing efforts when we feel comfortable that we can take on the additional work. Of course, we never try to turn away business!

Learning About Copyrights

Q: How can someone learn more about copyright laws that apply to their needs?
Cheryl: Copyright is a very important part of publishing. You are either creating your own copyrighted material or using someone else's. It has amazed me over the years how little copyright education there is available and how much misinformation about copyrights people have. That is one reason why I started the newsletter and have developed the seminar. I believe I have been called to educate and to pass on what I have learned over the years about copyright. I urge people to make a quick call to me, if they have a question. I can usually give them an answer in a minute, direct them to the next level, or give them a referral.


To contact Cheryl Besenjak, go to LinkEd, Cheryl Besenjak, Rights Specialist At cbRights Consulting

To send a private message to Anne Wallingford… Click HERE

042003 Monday, June 07, 2010