Writing for Profit: Break into Magazines

 Rights Explained

© Cheryl Wright – All rights reserved



This article is taken directly from Writing for Profit: Break into Magazines,  and explains the various rights used when selling to magazines.


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This was something I found to be extremely confusing when I was starting out, so here’s the simplified version.

1st Rights means the first time the piece is sold. However, there are variations of this.  You can sell:

·       1st US Rights

·       1st North American Rights

·       1st Australian Rights

·       1st Australasian Rights (Australian and New Zealand combined)

·       1st World Rights (Once you sell 1st World Rights then anything sold after that is 2nd Rights.)

·       1st State Rights (whatever state you live in, or sell to)

And much more.

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:

New Zealand

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 one.)

I couldn’t reasonably sell 1st Australasian Rights, then turn around and sell 1st Australian or New Zealand Rights, because Australasian Rights covers both countries.

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 resell. 

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 All Rights.  

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 writer!)

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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

Writing for Profit: Break into Magazines

Tired of Earning Peanuts from Your Writing?

If you want to break into non-fiction magazine writing but don't know how, this just-released ebook is for you. You'll learn all the concepts that are essential for all magazine writers.

Whether you are a novice or experienced writer, Cheryl Wright will teach you how to boost your income writing for magazines.

*Bonus market listing included.




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