Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1


translation. For this she was paid about
$80, meaning that in total, this one story
has earned about $1180.
As Benedict says: ‘Not a ton of money
but it’s a nice bit of extra earnings that I
didn’t have to put additional work into.’

The (re)sale that keeps giving
Sometimes, reprints can actually earn
more than the original sale.
Dawn Vogel, a Seattle-based author, sold
her fi rst ever published story to Crossed
Genres magazine which, at the time, only
paid a fl at fee of $10. She then sold it to an
online magazine that only paid royalties,
and as she says: ‘I never even made
enough for a cheap cup of coff ee.’
However, after that Dawn sold the story
to Gallery of Curiosities who were off ering
one cent per word for reprints. Since the
story was around 5000 words, she made
just under $50.
After that, she sold it again to Young
Explorer’s Adventure Guide who paid three
cents per word, netting another $150.

Seller beware...
If you want to sell your story more than
once, you do need to be careful what you
agree to. If you give up too many rights,
accidentally or otherwise, you might end

up no longer owning the story, meaning
you won’t be able to have it published
elsewhere without permission – and
probably payment of a fee.
Worse still: such an agreement could
have an impact on derivative works, ie
sequels, prequels, even works that feature
side characters.
But how can you make sure you’re not
submitting to a publication that’s making
potentially problematic demands, short of

getting a legal expert to read everything
for you in advance?
If you’ve read my previous columns
you’ll know about the Submissions
Grinder (thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com).
When it comes to rights, they’ve got you
David Steff en recently launched a new
‘Nonstandard Contracts’ feature (Twitter
users, see tinyurl.com/tjwese6). This
means that when you use the Grinder to
search for markets, a prominent warning
is displayed if a publication is asking for
‘terms that adversely aff ect an author’s
control over their own work’.
This includes the transfer of copyright,
ie selling complete ownership of your
work to the publication – something you
should probably never do, for the reasons
above. But the new Grinder warnings
also highlight some things you might not
think of, including lack of rights reversion,
statements saying that you commit to
publication by submitting, and statements
that say you can’t withdraw a pending
All of these concern the possibility
that a publisher might ‘sit’ on your story
for an extended period of time without
publishing it. There are various reasons
this might happen, both unscrupulous
and not, but you should be extremely
wary, because you could lose the right to
do anything at all with your story until
the issue is resolved. In an extreme case,
you might never get your rights back.
Statements saying you commit to
publication by submitting are perhaps
particularly worrying since you’re
agreeing to something without (probably)
having any direct communication with
the publisher. As Steff en told me: ‘It’s like
signing a contract you haven’t read; it is
asking for trouble. It’s hard to tell what
exactly you agreed to in the future.’

One last thing...
When buying fi rst rights, many
publications will ask for an exclusivity
period, ie a period of time during which
the piece can’t be reprinted. Six months
is common. You can still submit during
this time – just make sure you explain
the situation in your covering letter.
Editors are often working months ahead
and will be happy to work around the
date if they like the story enough.
So, with all this in mind, have you
got a published story that you could
perhaps sell again? Why not head to the
Submissions Grinder and see if you can
fi nd a new market for it?
You never know: you might be sitting
on some easy income!

Dawn Vogel

With the online market
booming, the opportunity
to sell reprints is good
Free download pdf