>Recently a correspondent sent me a link to her blog. It is a beautiful blog, filled with terrific articles and photos, the kind I’d like to see in a good newspaper. She is working on getting paid assignments, but meanwhile, I worry that she’s giving the good stuff away. Every freelancer ought to know that most publishers consider material that has been placed on a writer’s blog or website as published. Used goods. If they don’t take reprints, they won’t consider the work at all. Perhaps you can do a revision that makes it a new story, but beware of giving away articles that you could sell for money. Your ideas and articles are your inventory, and your time and energy is limited.
Now why, you might ask, do I publish two blogs? Why does anyone do blogs? Some people are just happy to express themselves online. But I’ll be honest. I’m hoping to draw attention to my books and classes, as well as my website. I also love to teach and this blog allows me to do that. After every live class, I come home chattering to myself about all the other things I could have said. The same applies to my book. There’s always so much more to say, so I blog to keep the conversation going and to bring things up to date.
What’s my other blog? Childless by Marriage, part plug and part research for the book I’m currently working on. Having to write something every week keeps me on task, and it does draw some attention, which in this business is vital to success. If you want to publish books, you’ve got to have a platform, and a blog is part of that.
So blog away to advance your career, share your experiences and opinions, or simply because it makes you happy. Just beware of giving away the store. Before you put it into a blog, ask yourself: Could I sell this as an article? If so, offer only a small taste, not the whole entrée, or blog about something else.
>I’m double-posting today to answer a question from a writer named Susan, who had some questions for me:
” I enjoyed reading your piece, “Newspapers: A Great Source of Freelance Opportunities.”
I’ve taken the opportunity to sell work I’ve done to newspapers, primarily because I’ve found it a very comfortable relationship.
Since I reside in both Florida and Illinois, one line in your piece was of particular interest, ” and the Chicago Tribune pays from $150 to $500 for travel articles–which you could resell to the L.A. Times or the Miami Herald….”
I haven’t written travel articles, I write health features, but why did you specifically mention the Times or the Herald for resale, and how would I go about reselling pieces I’ve done for the Trib?
Thanks in advance for your advice.
That I mentioned those particular papers was simply a matter of having the information and being impressed at their rates. In other words, it’s a coincidence that they happen to be the papers from where you live.
That said, you can resell any type of article, not just travel articles, as long as you have not given up all rights and your story fits the mission of papers you’re aiming for.
Let’s talk about rights. Ideally, you signed a contract for your work, but if not, you should have an e-mail, letter or at least a verbal agreement as to what rights the first publication is buying. Don’t accept an assignment without knowing what rights you’re giving up. In the best situation, they only ask for first rights or claim exclusive rights for a limited period of time, which allows you to offer reprint rights elsewhere.
Some papers buy all rights. You can try to negotiate a change in that clause, but if you don’t succeed, all is not lost. You can still write a new article using much of the same information but adding new material to fit the new market. Or you can go at the story from a different angle, making it a whole new piece.
Approach the new publication in much the same way as the first one. E-mail a query or send the whole story, making sure you mention where it ran before. Most publications pay less for reprints, but it still adds to the total you can make from that story.
A couple of cautions with newspaper reprints:
Most papers put a lot of their content online. If your story is going to be on the Internet indefinitely, that may harm your chances of republishing it elsewhere.
Many papers are part of conglomerates that own several newspapers. They often share content. Try not to offer reprints to papers in the same family.
I hope that answers some of your questions. There’s more information in my Freelancing for Newspapers book, as well as in Writer’s Market, at Writing-World.com and other sites for writers. I also recommend The Renegade Writer and The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing, both wonderful books.