Reprints: Easy or Hard Sell?

Reprints are a great way to get extra mileage (and maybe a little extra cash) out of your stories, and there are a lot of markets that take them, even some that prefer them. But are they easier or more difficult to sell/place than standard story submissions? I think a lot of that depends on the publisher, but let’s see if we can’t dig a little a deeper and put some numbers on the question.

What follows is a list of all my reprints submissions and their outcome. I send out a reasonable amount of reprint submissions, though it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to my normal subs. So, this is the very definition of sample size, but let’s see if the numbers show us anything.

Story Submissions Rejections Acceptances Pending
Beyond the Block 2 2
Big Problems 2 1 1
Caroline 4 4
Masks 1 1
Night Games 1 1
Night Walk 2 1 1
One Last Spell, My Love 4 4
Paint-Eater 1 1
Paper Cut 2 2
Scare Tactics 2 2
Shadow Can 2 1 1
The Father of Terror 3 2 1
The Food Bank 1 1
The Rarest Cut 1 1
The Sitting Room 1 1
Time Waits for One Man 2 1 1
Where They Belong 2 1 1
Total 33 21 9 3

I’ve sent 33 reprint submissions over the last eight years or so, and I received 9 acceptances. That’s an acceptance rate of around 27%, which is higher than my overall acceptance rate of 16%. Again, this is a small sample of my overall submissions, but I do seem to have fairly good luck with reprints. Why is that? I can think of two possible reasons.

  1. Publisher confidence. A reprint says something that a standard submission doesn’t. It says another editor/publisher liked this story enough to publish it. That might hold some small weight with some editors, especially if the reprint’s original publisher is one the current market recognizes and has similar taste/style. I said small weight because the reprint story still has to be a good fit for the new publisher, and, in fact, some publishers might give less consideration to reprints simply out of a desire to publish more original work.
  2. Reprint-friendly markets. There are certain publishers, primarily audio markets and anthologies, that seem to be more disposed to the reprint or even prefer them. Five of my reprint acceptances are with publishers I’d consider reprint-friendly, and I generally try to target these markets with my reprint submissions.

Reprints still live and die by two unwavering truths of submissions and publishing. One, you have to put the right story in front of the right editor at the right time, and, two, good stories (and reprints can likely lay claim to that title more than general submissions) still get rejected all the time. That said, in my experience, they are a bit easier to sell, and a reprint acceptance can be a welcome infusion of confidence and allow you to crack new markets and reach new readers. So get ’em out there.

What are your experience with reprints? Easier to sell? Harder? Tell me about it in the comments.

Reprint Submissions: Old Stories, New Markets

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.

The Right to Reprint

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.

Finding a Reprint Market

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):

Preparing the Reprint Submission

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:

Dear Editors, 

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].


Aeryn Rudel

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.