This article is taken directly
from Writing for Profit: Break into Magazines, and
explains the various rights used when selling to
This was something I found to
be extremely confusing when I was starting out, so here’s the simplified
1st Rights means the first
time the piece is sold. However, there are variations of this.
You can sell:
Australasian Rights (Australian and New Zealand combined)
Rights (Once you sell 1st World Rights then anything sold after that is 2nd
Rights (whatever state you live in, or sell to)
Once you’ve sold 1st
Rights, you can then re-sell the articles as 2nd Rights, and 3rd
Rights and so on.
However, what a lot of people
don’t realise is that you can simultaneously sell 1st Rights to many
magazines, provided they don’t cross over.
For instance, if I wanted to
sell the same article to magazines in all (or some of) the following countries at
once, I could:
The thing you have to be
careful about here is that the magazines in each of these countries don’t have
distribution in any or all of the other countries. If they’ve
dished out big bucks for your article only to find it in a competing magazine –
at the same time - they would be far from thrilled.
The same goes
if you sold 1st US Rights, and then sold 1st North American Rights.
That could be tricky, or even dishonest.
Why? Because 1st US Rights mostly likely covers North
America too. (You’d need to check your contract for the legalities of that
reasonably sell 1st Australasian Rights, then turn around and sell 1st
Australian or New Zealand Rights, because Australasian Rights covers
You can also sell All
Rights for your articles, but that comes at a price. You can never sell that
exact same piece again. Ever.
However, you can rewrite it –
totally – and resell. If you do this, you need to be fair to the magazine that
purchased it, and give the article an entirely new slant. The
reason for this is you’ve signed all your rights away, and no longer hold
the copyright on it.
Generally magazines pay a
lot of money for All Rights, but it’s not something I do lightly, and
neither should you.
Caution: if you’re not prepared to lose the money
involved, and feel it’s reasonable for the work you’ve done, then accept the
offer. This absolutely must be a personal decision.
Yes, I have sold All
Rights for articles, but only those I have no intention of trying to
This has usually been when the
article is about some obscure subject that would not be easy to sell elsewhere, or
the articles have been commissioned – and again wouldn’t be easy to
resell. More often than not, commissioned articles are for
Despite what you often read in
other how-to books, you cannot generally negotiate terms, conditions, or payment.
Each magazine has their standard rates and contracts, and rarely deviates from
these. (Unless you’re a very high profile
About the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and
freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner
of the Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for
writers. Her publications include novels, non-fiction books, short stories,
and articles. To keep up to date with her publications and new releases, visit
Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com
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