>Question about reselling stories to other markets

>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.
Susan

Susan,
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.

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>Study the paper and the guidelines

>I taught my “Freelancing for Newspapers” class at the South Coast Writers Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon last weekend. We were blessed with sunny weather and a wonderful group of writers and presenters.

As one of my class exercises, I passed out newspapers and had teams analyze the freelance possibilities in those papers. It was an interesting experiment. If you remember back to my blog entry about the Christian Science Monitor, you’ll remember it seemed like a pretty good market. Well, the students who had that paper flipped through it and said, “There’s nothing here for us.” Not having seen the guidelines, they had no idea about the many sections open to freelancers. It really is important to look for a paper’s submission guidelines to understand the possibilities. Read the paper AND the guidelines, and you should have a clear picture of whether you can write for them.

There were a lot of questions about terms that I have known for so long that I guess I forget everyone doesn’t know them. So let me clarify for one and all:

* Staff writers are usually identified as such in the byline. Articles with no byline are either staff-written or press releases run without pay.
* If an article says “for” the Tribune or “special to”, it was probably written by a freelancer.
* If the byline doesn’t give you a clue, look for a tag at the end of the article. Also look in the masthead and see if the name is listed among the editors or staff writers. If it’s not, the writer is a freelancer.
* “Contributing editor” and “contributors” listed in a byline or in the masthead are freelancers. They are not paid staff members. The contributing editors may have an agreement to write for every issue. Contributors may write for every issue or just this one.
* Stringers are also regular freelance contributors. It’s an old-fashioned term that comes from the way editors used to measure stories by the inch, using a marked string.
* Associated Press is an organization to which newspapers belong. Most articles are written by staff writers for their own papers and picked up by the Associated Press to offer to other member papers. The articles arrive online each day, and the editors pick out which ones they want. People do freelance for AP, but it’s a hard job to get.
* News services, such as Cox News Service, are syndicates that work like AP, offering a menu of stories to member or subscriber newspapers. You can freelance for them. Check Writer’s Market for a list of some of these, but they do favor employee writers with strong track records.

If you can’t find guidelines in Writer’s Market or on the newspaper’s web site, e-mail or telephone the editor and ask: “Do you take freelance? Can I send you some ideas?”

Feel free to ask questions about this stuff, and remember, wherever you go, grab a newspaper.