As you write your book you may find that you would like to include material from another source. This may be a quote, a chart, an image, a photo or something similar ("third-party material"). You will need written permission to include any material in your book that you did not create and any material that you have published elsewhere, unless it is in the public domain or could be considered "fair use."

As you prepare your manuscript, remember accuracy in quotations is essential. Whenever you quote from the work of another author, please check your rendition word for word and make sure the spelling and punctuation has been duplicated exactly.

If you wish to paraphrase or summarize the words of another author, make sure that you rephrase completely rather than just changing a word here and there. Any direct quotes must be put in quotation marks or set off as a block.

When Is Permission Needed?

Prose: Permission is generally required if you are using more than 1,000 words in the aggregate and/or more than 300 consecutive words from a single source.

Poetry/Lyrics: Permission is usually required to use more than ten percent (10%) or 10 lines of poetry or song lyrics, whichever is less. However, permission is required to use a complete literary unit (such as a verse or stanza) of a poem or song, regardless of length.

Images, photos, graphs, charts: Permission is almost always required to reproduce these items as they are typically considered a complete piece.

In addition to the above guidelines, the total amount quoted from a single source must not be more than ten percent (10%) of that source nor should it comprise more than five percent (5%) of your new work.

Please ask your editor if you are uncertain whether or not to seek permission. If you are interested in learning more about Public Domain or Fair Use, visit

How Do I Request Permission?

Determine the copyright holder(s) and contact them using this permissions request letter. This will provide the copyright holder with information to help them process your request. Even if you decide not to use our letter, please be certain to request nonexclusive permission for both print and electronic formats throughout the world and for the lifetime of the book.

What Specific Rights Should I Consider Asking For?

Worldwide: Although our primary market is North America, we distribute books throughout the world. Worldwide rights will give us the option to sell the book internationally.

Electronic Books: We seek to release our books in both print and electronic/digital formats whenever possible. In order to release an ebook, we need written permission(s) that includes electronic book rights for all third-party content. If you receive permission that does not include electronic rights, please discuss this with your editor. If we decide to include material that does not include ebook permission, then we will not be able to release an ebook edition. So you may want to consider if the material you would like to use is so valuable to your print book that you are willing to lose potential ebook sales. Your editor may be able to suggest other alternatives.

Life of the Book: The process of renewing permissions that are limited to a specific quantity or amount of time is difficult to manage well and the copyright holder may charge an additional fee for the renewal. If it’s not possible to obtain permission for the life of your book, please obtain permission for enough copies to cover estimated sales for the first five (5) years.

What If I Don't Receive the Rights I Requested?

Please contact your editor if the copyright holder's permission does not include ebook rights or is otherwise limited. We can help you negotiate with the copyright holder and/or decide whether or not to include the material in your book.

Will I Have to Pay a Fee?

Copyright holders often charge a fee for permission to use their material. The amount of the fee varies depending on a variety of factors including the type of content, how much material you are using and the stature of the original author. Here are some general guidelines of what you might expect. Keep in mind that the amount of material you are requesting is usually directly related to the amount of the fee:

  • A 500-1000 word quote (prose) $0-$250
  • A complete chapter or article (prose) $100-$1000
  • Poetry or song lyrics $50-$1000
  • A chart, graph or figure $0-$250
  • A photo, image, cartoon or piece of art $0-$250

In some cases the copyright holder will include ebook rights in the fee. In other cases, they may charge a separate fee for ebook rights which may be 50% or more of the original fee.

All permission fees are the responsibility of the author. We recommend that you wait to pay any permission fees until your editor has reviewed the manuscript and you are certain the material will be included in your book. If you prefer, InterVarsity Press can send a check for the permission fee and deduct that amount from your royalties if such funds are available.

What Do I Do Once I Receive Permission?

Please send a copy of all permissions you receive to your editor. It is important for InterVarsity Press to receive a full copy of any permission(s) you receive prior to publication. If a copyright holder sends a contract for you to sign, please send a signed copy to your editor for review before you return a copy to the copyright holder.

If there are any issues with the permission that you would like help with, we can help you negotiate with the copyright holder before finalizing the permission. Please tell your editor whether you will pay for the permission yourself or if you would like InterVarsity Press to pay the permission and deduct the amount from your royalties.

We hope the process of receiving permission to use third-party materials in your book will go smoothly. If you have any questions or would like additional information as you work on your book please contact your editor.