Looking to expand the ol’ publications list and get some of your best work to a wider audience? A reprint submission may be the way to go. If the term reprint is unfamiliar to you, it’s simply a story you’ve already published. (It’s also a story where certain rights have reverted back to you. More on that in a sec.) When you send that story to another market who accepts previously published works, it’s a reprint submission.
I’ve sent a fair amount of reprint submissions over the last couple of years (even published a few), so I thought I’d talk about some of the basic info I’ve learned along the way, plus a few pointers on how and where to publish them. Let’s get to it.
One thing you must know before you send a reprint submission is if you currently have the rights to republish the story. You might be thinking, “Hey, this is my story. How could I not have the rights to it?” Well, when you sold the story initially, you signed a contract that granted the publisher certain rights to the work. Some of those rights were likely exclusive, and you can’t publish the story again until that period of exclusivity ends (usually six months to a year).
Your contract should include language that addresses the rights the publishers is looking to obtain (print, electronic, audio, etc.) and how long they’re looking to hold onto them. If you’d like to see examples of the language I’m referring to, the SFWA model contract (a good standard by which to judge such contracts) is an excellent place to start. Keep in mind I’m not an attorney, and my understanding of contract law is, well, embryonic, so do your research and read your contract carefully. Make sure you understand the terms you’ve agreed to and make doubly sure you have the right to republish a story before you send it out as a reprint.
If you have the rights to republish your story, you need to find a market that accepts reprints. The good news is almost every publisher addresses reprints in their submission guidelines with a pretty straightforward yes, we take ’em or a no, we don’t. If a market does accept reprints, the guidelines will look something like this:
We don’t mind if your story has been previously published online or in print (though we do need to know publication and date).
Now the bad news. In my experience, a lot of standard genre markets don’t accept reprints. For example, according to Duotrope, there are currently 58 pro or semi-pro science fiction markets open to short story submissions. Of those 58 markets, 15 accept reprints. With fantasy, it’s 56 and 17. Horror, 31 and 8. There’s a ton of crossover here. It’s not 40 markets accepting reprints, it’s more like 17 that accept some combo of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Note, I left a certain type of publisher out of the numbers above; you’ll see why in a sec.
If you’re looking to submit a reprint, certainly look at your favorite markets to see if they accept them. You might have more luck, however, if you focus on a specific type of publisher:
Audio Markets: Podcasts and other audio markets are one of your best bet for reprints. They generally love ’em because they’re not really reprints to them. If a story has never appeared in audio, an entirely different media format, most audio markets don’t care one way or the other. Some might pay you a bit less for a story that’s been published elsewhere; others don’t even make that distinction. Here are some of my favorite pro and semi-pro audio genre markets (all take reprints):
A reprint submission is often just like a standard submission with a few minor changes (always read the guidelines carefully). The publisher might ask you to alert them in the subject line of the email that the submission is a reprint and may ask you to tell them where and when the story was initially published in the cover letter. That cover letter might look something like this:
Please consider my short story “Night Games” for publication at Pseudopod. The story is approximately 4,300 words in length. This story was original published by The Devilfish Review on June 27th, 2014. It is available to read on their site at this link: [link to story].
Some publisher may also ask you to provide a link to where the story was originally published if it’s available to read online. This publisher, for instance, even added that link to the podcast.
That’s the basics on reprints, so dust off those old published stories and get them out there again. There may be a whole new audience waiting to read them. 🙂
Have any thoughts on reprints? Maybe a hot tip on a market that accepts them? Tell me about it in the comments.