Join guest columnist and author, Aeryn Rudel, every month right here at Dark Matter Magazine to get tips on writing, publishing, and the subtle art of rejection. Read more of Aeryn’s work over at his Rejectomancy blog.
OLD IS NEW AGAIN: REPRINTS
Column by Aeryn Rudel
July 23, 2021
This month, we’re talking about one of my absolute favorite submission subjects: reprints. If you’re looking for a way to crack more markets with more confidence and less work, then, my friend, reprints are for you.
Simply put, a reprint is a story you’ve published elsewhere, to which you control the rights. When you submit that story again to a publisher who accepts previously published stories, it’s a reprint submission.
There are a couple of important factors to consider before sending out a reprint submission. One, you need to find markets that accept them, and two, you must have the necessary rights to the story to sell it again.
First, how do you find markets that accept reprints? This part is easy. Nearly all publishers mention reprints in their guidelines, like this:
We will also consider previously published fiction, as long as the writer retains the rights or second-publication rights can be obtained.
This publisher clearly accepts reprints, but note the bit about rights. That’s important, and we’ll get to that.
We do not publish reprints, and we do not accept simultaneous submissions.
Not all publishers accept reprints, of course, and many will address the subject along with simultaneous submissions (another common author inquiry). Follow the guidelines, and do not send reprints to publishers that don’t accept them.
I would be remiss if I didn’t cover something I call the accidental reprint. Many folks publish stories on their blogs or for their Patreon supporters. It’s important to understand that some publishers consider a story published in this manner a reprint (and they often put that right in their guidelines). So, before you publish a story on your blog, Patreon, or other public-facing platform, keep in mind that you may be reducing the number of publishers you can send it to as an original piece.
Who’s Got the Rights?
This is maybe the most critical aspect of selling a reprint story. You need to make sure you actually have the right to do so. How do you know if you have the right to resell a story? When you sold that story the first time, you should have come across an exclusivity clause in the guidelines and definitely in your contract. The clause looks something like this:
We are seeking six months exclusive worldwide publication rights for original works, and non-exclusive worldwide print and electronic rights thereafter for both original works and reprints.
This is a bang-on-the-money industry standard rights clause you’re likely to encounter in both guidelines and contracts. When it comes to reprints, it’s that period of exclusivity you need to worry about. With this market, you have to wait six months after publication before the rights become non-exclusive and you can submit the story as a reprint. Six months is pretty much industry standard for genre, though some markets may ask for less, and a few do ask for more.
One of the realities of selling a reprint is that most markets pay less for them than original fiction. Some markets may not pay anything. This information will be disclosed in the submission guidelines, like this:
We pay Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) rates of 8 cents per word for new stories and 6 cents per word for reprints.
This is actually a pretty good rate for reprints. More typical is somewhere in the neighborhood of half the payment for an original story (or less), though some markets pay a set amount, such as $100.00, for previously published stories.
Who Wants Reprints?
When you start looking for markets for your reprint stories, you’ll find quite a number of speculative fiction markets accept them. In my experience, selling reprints to markets that primarily publish original fiction can be challenging. This is because these markets often only publish one or two reprints per issue, so competition can be fierce. Never fear, though. There are two types of markets who not only accept reprints, but are quite welcoming to previously published stories.
- Audio markets. Most audio markets LOVE reprints, and even say so in their guidelines. Why? Well, because of their unique format, reprint stories are essentially new stories to them with the added bonus of having a proven track record. Some audio markets like reprints so much, they even pay the same rate for them as originals.
- Anthologies. In general, I have found anthology editors to be very welcoming to reprints. Many of these editors may be looking for a strong core of previously published stories to build their anthology around. I also find that the pay discrepancy between originals and reprints to be somewhat less pronounced in anthologies, though this is purely anecdotal.
So what are reprints good for? Why send them? Well, there are a lot of good reasons, but these are my top two.
- More exposure and paydays for minimal work. Reprints are a great way to juice your submission numbers, increase your exposure, and get paid with far less work than goes into an original submission. Every publication of your reprint exposes you and your work to another group of readers. Since reprints are often my best work, it increases my chances of publication and introduces me to new readers in the best possible light.
- Submit with confidence. Submitting a story you know was good enough to be published once takes some of the stress out of the submission process. Personally, reprints allow me to test the waters with some of the bigger publishers, the ones I was a little intimidated by in the beginning. In fact, one of my first pro sales was a reprint. I also find that reprint rejections sting a bit less and are really proof positive that getting published has a lot to do with right market, right editor, right story.
Reprints are an extra reward for getting published, and one you should take full advantage of. You only need to follow the guidelines, be cognizant of a few potential hurdles, and then you can start flinging those previously published pieces out with wild abandon.
Check back next month for more advice on how and where to submit your work or head over to my blog Rejectomancy for oodles of overly analytical articles about the various and sundry parts of writing, submitting, and every author’s favorite subject, rejection.