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PostPosted: January 9th, 2004, 5:50 pm 

Joined: January 8th, 2004, 11:37 am
Posts: 6
OK... hypothetically speaking, let's say that I write a 2000 word short story and want to sell it. So, I peruse the Writer's Market and look for a prospective emag, or magazine, or whatever. Can I sell my story to multiple buyers? In other words, let's say that I submit my story to 6 magazines and all six want to buy it... can I sell it to all of them or do I have to choose one?

I guess I'm just foggy on the whole legality thing. I've heard the term "first rights" tossed around, but I don't reall know what that means.


 Post subject: rights
PostPosted: January 9th, 2004, 6:03 pm 
Almost certainly, you have to choose one. You make that choice based on how much they'll pay and what rights they want to buy.

If one publication wants to buy "all rights" they are, in essence, saying that they want to own everything about it. You can't re-sell it to anyone else, you can't use it later as part of a larger work, nothing. They own everything about that piece now, just as if THEY had written it originally, rather than you.

If another publication wants to buy "first rights" they are saying that they want to be the first ones to publish it. After that, the rights revert to you and you once again own the piece. You can then sell the "reprint rights" to someone else.

Now, the only way you wouldn't have to choose is if you sell it to a couple of different, very small and very local publications that are willing to buy very restricted rights. So, for instance, you might sell "first California rights" to a tiny little literary mag in Barstow. They now have the rights to be the first ones in California to publish it. At the same time you could sell "first Florida rights" to a tiny little literary mag in Palatka and they would have the rights to be the first ones in Florida to publish it.

More likely than that, someone might want "first North American rights." This means that you could simultaneously sell it to another publication in Europe, or Asia, or anywhere but North America.

Realistically, though, you'll have to choose. Almost no publication is going to want to buy only the rights to publish it in their state, and if they did I can't imagine they'd pay more than a pittance. These days fewer and fewer publications are even interested in "first North American rights." What they'll probably ask for is "all rights." Try to negotiate that down to "first rights."

Good luck!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 9th, 2004, 8:57 pm 
Wow... thanks for the info denver, I appreciate it.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 9th, 2004, 9:01 pm 
OK... now I have another related dumb question. I recently started a web site that I plan to use to showcase some of my work. If I sell all the rights to a short story that is on my website, I assume then that I would have to take said short story OFF of my website. What if I sell the first rights... would I still be required to take the story off the web?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 10th, 2004, 12:42 am 
I would think if the short story is posted on the website it would already be considered that first online rights are used. You could still sell first rights for print magazines. If that isn't right somebody jump in here! If someone sees it on your website and wants to purchase you could sell "one time" rights.

Check out the following link for some great articles on rights

 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 10th, 2004, 1:17 am 

Joined: February 6th, 2003, 9:28 pm
Posts: 278
The chances of all six wanting to buy it at the same time is pretty small. More likely, one would offer to buy it, and if you agreed to sell it you would negotiate the rights. Then you would know where you stand for the next phone call.

And if more than one did call in the same day, you could pick and choose which one or more you would sell it to depending on what money/rights they offered you.

Keep an eye out on the markets, some do require that you tell them in your letter that you have sent it to more than one market.

 Post subject: Articles
PostPosted: January 10th, 2004, 2:25 pm 

Joined: October 8th, 2003, 4:46 pm
Posts: 687
In some instances online rights are considered first NA rights and first World-wide rights. So, better give the magazine a heads-up on that one.

Also, if a magazine states "no simultaneous submissions" or something to that effect, be careful. I had sent a story into a magazine one time and after not hearing from them for 3 months I put the article on my own website. About a month later I received 2 copies of the magazine with my published article and a cheque. Someone had forgotten to let me know they wanted it, the letter was lost, or something. Technically, I'd breached the contract on my end since I had sent the article in with the agreement I was not sending it elsewhere, and I failed to find out what amount of time they considered reasonable. It really was no big deal to them, since they just didn't want competitors running it first, but some publications might get a little sticky about that.

 Post subject: website
PostPosted: January 12th, 2004, 4:04 pm 
Putting a something on a website is considered "publishing" it. Hence, you would need to tell any potential buyers that it had been already been on the internet. This will most likely reduce the interest in the story. Many simply aren't interested in buying if they can't buy "first rights."

Were I an editor, and I knew that you had put the story on the internet, I would tell you that the "first rights" had already been taken so I can only buy "reprint rights" from you. "Reprint rights" are usually worth a fraction of "first right" (rarely more than 1/2, usually more like 1/4th or 1/5th). So, in essence, you have handed the editor an excellent tool for negotiating your price down.

If you write something that you think you might want to sell someday it would be best NOT to put it on your website!

If you have sold "all rights," then you cannot post it on your website without permission from the publisher to whom you sold the rights.

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