In our recent blog post on understanding copyright and permissions, we outlined when you do and do not need to secure permission to reproduce someone else’s writing or artwork in your book. This blog post will take you through the next step — once you know you need to get permission, what do you do next.

1. Figure out who the copyright holder is and who to contact.

The first step is to make sure that you have the original source for the material. Text and artwork are often misattributed. Then you’ll need to figure out who holds the copyright — it’s usually the author or creator. For books, you can check the copyright page to identify the copyright holder. Articles should clearly identify the creators at the beginning of the text. 

However, if the work has been published, you’ll first want to see if you can contact the publisher. As long as the book or article is still “in print”, meaning that the publisher is still in business and selling or distributing copies, then you will need to contact them for permission. If the work seems to be out of print (for example, if the book isn’t available new on Amazon) or if the publisher seems to be out of business, that’s when you’ll need to track down the author. Similarly, if you want to reproduce artwork, you’ll first want to contact the publisher of the work it appeared in. If that doesn’t work, then you’ll contact the creator.

If the work you want to reproduce is unpublished or self-published (for example, a blog post), then you’ll contact the author.

2. Contact the work’s publisher or author.

Most mid-size and large publishers have permissions information on their websites, and you’ll end up filling out a form. For example, Wiley has a permissions portal that walks you through how to request permission. You’ll need to have the following information ready:

  • Title and author of the work
  • ISBN or DOI
  • Date of publication
  • Material that you’d like to reproduce (copy and paste the quoted text or identify the artwork)
  • Information about your book (author, title, publisher, publication date)

If you’re contacting an author (or a publisher that doesn’t have a permissions portal), you’ll need to write them a letter or email. Check with your publisher first to see if they have a template or form they’d like you to use (CEL has a permissions form). If they don’t, Jane Friedman has a great sample letter, which you can use as a template.

3. Share the permission with your publisher.

At CEL, we require all permissions to be secured and shared with us by the time the final manuscript is submitted. Check with your publisher to see what their requirements are.

Once permission is granted, your publisher will include a permissions note on the copyright page of your book or within the text.

Section of the copyright page from Writing about Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, showing permissions that were secured: an article from Teaching & Learning Inquiry written by the book authors, a blog post by Pat Thomson, and a blog post by Rebecca J. Hogue.
Permissions statements on the copyright page of Writing about Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Hopefully the publisher or author will get back to you quickly, but understand that it can take some time. The rights holder may also tell you that you may reproduce the work, but they will charge you for doing so (sometimes up to thousands of dollars). In most cases, you (the author) would be responsible for paying this fee if you decide that you need to include the copyrighted content.

At CEL, we encourage our authors to err on the side of caution and seek permission for any use of copyrighted material beyond a short quote. We’ve found that our authors generally have no problem getting the permissions they need.

This post is an installment of our series on academic book publishing. If you missed any of the other posts, check them out:


Friedman, Jane. 2020. “A Writer’s Guide to Fair Use and Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter.” Jane Friedman (blog). September 17, 2020.

Jennie Goforth is the Center for Engaged Learning’s Managing Editor. She works with authors to shepherd their work from proposal through production in the Center’s Open Access Book Series. She also manages production of book websites and supplemental materials for the Stylus Publishing/Center for Engaged Learning Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching.

How to cite this post:

Goforth, Jennie. 2021, May 24. “Academic Book Publishing: Securing Permissions” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from