Sell Everything But This..(A Lesson on Buying Rights)
MONEY FOR NOTHING: DON’T GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO BE REPETITIVE
By Steenie Harvey in Ireland
$100. Is it worth getting out of bed for?
Well, it might sound utterly paltry. But you shouldn’t reject low-paying markets out of hand.
You see, it’s possible to sell the same story an infinite number of times. Effectively it’s money for nothing–and who turns down free money?
Let’s say your story about a Vietnamese culinary tour is initially purchased by a prestigious travel publication for $1,800. Great, but why not resell it to some lesser paying markets after its initial print appearance?
When you sell your work to a publication, you are not selling them the manuscript itself. Unless you have signed an agreement granting ‘All Rights’ or something similar, you are only giving them the license to publish it once.
Once a story has appeared in print (or electronically), professional writers expect ‘the Rights’ to revert back to the author. You own the copyright and are free to do whatsoever you wish with it. Print out the article and repaper the bottom of your parrot’s cage if you must…but reselling it makes far more sense!
Maybe each successive buyer only pays $50 to $100 a pop, but you can do the math too. Resell it 10 times for $100 and in total, you’ve got $2,800 for the story—and you haven’t needed to change a single word!
Rights issues often seem confusing, but they’re straightforward enough. The important thing is ensuring you understand exactly what kind of deal an editor is offering. “Rights” can sometimes be negotiated. So in your haste to see your name in print, don’t blithely sign away what could be an on-going earner.
There is leeway. Take Hinduism Today (which occasionally buys travel stories about India). Their guidelines say they buy all rights of publication, unless other specific arrangements are worked out with the author. www.hinduismtoday.com
Many publications buy reprint and one-time rights—just flick through Writer’s Market and you’ll see the possibilities.
** FIRST RIGHTS/FIRST NORTH AMERICAN SERIAL RIGHTS (FNASR)
First Rights/First North American Serial Rights (FNASR) means you are granting a publication the right to publish your article for the first time. FNASR applies throughout the United States and Canada.
Without a major rewrite (it’s normally around 80% of the content to be considered a new article), you can never sell FNASR again. So, be careful whom you sell to!
Hook a generous-paying publication to start with, and FNASR is the most lucrative method of selling a story. The door then stays open for selling reprints.
** SECOND SERIAL (REPRINT) RIGHTS
Here you’re granting the right to publish an article that has appeared elsewhere. For example, I originally sold a story about climbing Croagh Patrick, an Irish pilgrimage mountain, to the Washington Post. I resold it a few weeks later to a religious magazine.
Although it sounds misleading, Second Rights can be resold over and over–you’re not limited to selling your story twice only. However, expect lower rates for reprints than for original articles. It’s also protocol to list where and when the article originally appeared.
Within Writer’s Guidelines, you may find certain caveats. For example, here’s one from Parents Press. ”Non-local articles are most often purchased on a second rights (reprint) basis, and we require permanent San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California exclusivity.” This “exclusivity” means that although you can resell your story throughout most parts of North America, you can’t sell it in their area again.
Although not a travel publication, articles such as “Working Out With Your Baby,” “How Safe Is That Swimming Pool?” and “The Hot New Preschool Approach from Italy” could spark some ideas. They’re all past reprints purchased by the magazine. www.parentspress.com
** ONE-TIME RIGHTS
In this case, you’re granting a publication the right to use your story once–but not necessarily for the first time or exclusively. You can grant One-Time Rights to more than one editor simultaneously.
You might sell these rights to non-competing newspapers and regional magazines in differing geographical areas. A story about antiquing in Vermont could be sold to publications in New Jersey, Florida, Los Angeles, and so on. You could also sell it to “trade” magazines–doctors, dentists, and police officers take vacations too.
As editors also tend to pay lower rates for One-Time Rights, leave investigating this possibility until after selling FNASR to a higher-paying magazine.
Clauses may exist here too. For example, Wisconsin Trails magazine buys One-Time Rights that last for 60 days after publication.
** FIRST BRITISH/AUSTRALASIAN/’WHEREVER’ SERIAL RIGHTS
I sold First North American Serial Rights to Horse Illustrated for a story about the Great Fair of Ballinasloe–an Irish horse-fair. With a few spelling tweaks, I then sold this same story to the travel section of the UK’s Independent newspaper and also The Age, a Melbourne-based Australian newspaper.
Unless a magazine demands English Language Periodical Rights, you can sell a story to other English-speaking countries before or at the same time it appears in North America. Not just countries like the UK either. Anywhere with a large expatriate presence generally has English-language publications. Travel stories are usually local, but if you’ve visited somewhere unusual in Thailand, why not try reselling it in Thailand too?
** FIRST WORLD RIGHTS/WORLDWIDE RIGHTS
”We normally buy First World Rights with exclusivity for six months from date of publication” says Cruising World (www.cruisingworld.com). So don’t try reselling your story on ”A Guy in Every Port” to the Irish Independent, The Malta Times, or The Bangkok Post–at least not within six months.
Without the word “First” in the title, Worldwide Rights is a bummer similar to All Rights…and I’ll get to those in a moment.
** ELECTRONIC AND ARCHIVAL RIGHTS
Many print publications also have websites. Terms like these are becoming increasingly common in Writer’s Guidelines: ”We purchase all First North American Serial Rights including first electronic rights and nonexclusive archival rights.”
Covering webzines, e-letters, CD-ROMs, etc., Electronic Rights are a whole world unto to themselves. However, you should apply the same principles as to print publications. In other words, don’t sell First Electronic Rights (or gift All Rights) to some cyberspace Scrooge.
Archival Rights can be rather nasty. They mean a publication can keep your story in its online database. When a story gets archived, reselling rights can be difficult. If an editor wants to archive your article, ensure it’s for a limited period only, and not forever. A “non-exclusive” Archival Right means you can resell the story, providing it doesn’t infringe any other rights.
** ALL RIGHTS AND WORK-FOR-HIRE
Unless you’re handsomely compensated, these aren’t good deals for you. When a publication buys All Rights, they’re buying your story forever — both print and electronic rights. They can sell it to another publisher or an electronic library… use it in another type of publication… post it all over the web. And you probably won’t get paid a cent extra.
If you’ve sold All Rights, you can try asking for them to revert back to you. However, much depends on the publication — and also its future plans.
Work-For-Hire is even more horrible. Like with All Rights, an article can be resold a zillion times over with no extra compensation for you. The publisher automatically owns the copyright — which means you may not even be credited as author. Plus they can mangle your story however they choose.
The above are the most commonly encountered Rights, but others exist too. If you’re unsure of what the Rights being offered mean, ask the editor for clarification.
Keep in mind is that some stories can be real money-spinners. So make sure you don’t sign away your Rights to getting the most financial mileage out of yours.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]