Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1


n previous articles, I’ve talked about
where to sell short stories online, but
did you realise you can sell stories
twice, or more? You can, and it might
be easier than you thought.
Once upon a time, the biggest market
for short stories was print magazines, and
they were mostly interested in original
fi ction. You sold FBSR (First British Serial
Rights) or FNASR (First North American
Serial Rights) and so on, ‘fi rst’ meaning
the work had not been published in that
country before.
These days the exact wording might
be diff erent. Print-only, country-specifi c
markets have shrunk, and a lot of titles
publish online. As a result, you might see
‘fi rst electronic rights’ or something along
the lines of ‘fi rst digital print publication
rights’. At one time, authors might have
been advised to avoid giving up electronic
rights, because they’re eff ectively
worldwide rights – the internet being
available everywhere – but these days
it’s probably inevitable.
Either way, the publication is (or should
be) only buying the right to be fi rst to
publish your work. Crucially, ownership
stays with you, the author – which means

the work is yours to sell again so that it
can, for example, be published elsewhere
as a reprint. These sorts of rights are
called ‘subsidiary’ rights (whereas fi rst
rights are ‘primary’ rights).

Reprints are desirable
There is an upside to the ubiquitous
nature of the internet: it’s easier to fi nd
new markets, and sell reprints, than it
was. A lot of online markets actively look
to publish reprints, for a whole number
of reasons.
First, with so many online publications
across the world, the chances readers have
read the story somewhere else are lower
than they perhaps once were.
Second, if another editor has already
loved a story enough to buy it, it’s a mark
of quality.
Third, if an editor is trying to address
a particular theme in an issue of their
publication, a previously published story
that explores that theme is likely to be
appreciated by readers, even if they have
seen it somewhere else before.
And, fi nally, reprints are generally
cheaper than original fi ction, so they’re
kinder on tight budgets – especially for
longer works.
For you, the author, reprints can be
easy money. The second point above is
very much in your favour: someone has
already endorsed the work. The odds are
that another editor will agree, especially
if (point three) it matches a theme the
editor wants to cover.
All you have to do, at most, is make a
few format changes to suit the publication
in question and write a few sentences in a
covering note explaining where and when
the story has already been published. It
might only take you 10 minutes, and those
10 minutes can pay well.

Making your work really work
Albany-based author RS Benedict’s story,
My English Name, was fi rst published in
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

in 2017, at a rate of seven US cents a word.
Since the story was about 10,000 words
long, this earned her $700.
But the story didn’t stop there. It’s
since been reprinted in three other print
anthologies, including The Very Best of
the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science
Fiction, as well as the audio anthology The
Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 10.
Each reprint earned around $100.
Benedict told me that royalties were also
agreed for the anthologies if sales were
high enough, but she ‘hasn’t seen any yet’.
It’s worth noting that royalty deals are
rarely worth very much unless your name
is famous enough to garner big sales.
That said, don’t give up royalties without
question – you never know!
Benedict was also approached by email
by the editor of Nowa Fantastyka – a Polish
fantasy magazine – with an off er of a

Kat Day shows that reselling your stories can be

easy money – as long as you know your rights

If another editor has

already loved a story

enough to buy it, it’s a

mark of quality



RS Benedict
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