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Submitting work that has already been published

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I've been writing freelance for my local paper for about 5 years. Every once in a while one of the pieces I've written really jumps out at me as something that would be of interest to a larger audience.

So I've started thinking about going back to some of my old stuff, editing a bit and submitting to some magazines.

But I'm not quite sure how this works.

Like say for example I wanted to submit a parenting essay I've written for the paper to Mothering Magazine. Are there a certain number of edits that I need to make to it before it becomes re-sellable or can I just send it as is? Do I need to tell the editors at Mothering that it has been published before? Do magazine editors care that something has been published in my rinky-dink local paper?

Thanks.

~Erin
post #2 of 7
It really depends on both parties. My rinky dink newspaper shares stories with the rinky dink paper in the next town over, and everyone is happy. But that's a preset arrangement. I'd say most larger publications only print original content, as in never before published. I think it should be entirely original content as well--even a single verbatim paragraph could be problematic. If you have a piece that you really want to submit to a magazine, don't file it with the local paper.
Of course, with already published work, it never hurts to ask if someone wants to reprint it. Different publications have different guidelines.
'Kay, here's Mothering Magazine's submission guidelines:
Please do not send us an article that you have already submitted elsewhere unless you have had the article returned or have heard that it is not going to be used.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

I guess I was just thinking maybe because I'm revisiting work that's 4-5 years old, that magazines wouldn't really care that Joe Smith in Little Town, USA might have read this piece already.

I had talked with my editor a while back and he knows I'm planning to put together a book of my essays at some point. He told me he'd talk to the publisher about it but I don't think he ever did. I'm really not too concerned about their being any problems on that end though.

I guess I need to give some thought about whether or not my weekly column in the local paper is worth it if I'm not able to reuse any of that work. Right now, one article a week is about all I can manage. I've been submitting to the paper because it's safe and guaranteed money (albeit very little) and it's also fun to have people around town give me feedback on my work.

But since it is my intention to eventually (in a couple of years) "make a living" with my writing, I'd really like to start submitting to larger publications.

Hmmmm....lots to ponder. Thanks!!
post #4 of 7
Well, it's never a bad thing to have five years of clips. That's great experience. And you probably could publish a collection of your columns.
A ton of magazines publish freelance work. Good luck!
post #5 of 7
Many writers make their money by reselling work. The first thing you need to check is your contract with the paper - you need to be sure you still own the work. If you don't have a contract you probably sold First North American Rights but your paper might think otherwise. If you did sell FSNAR you can't sell those rights again - but many magazines (including all the regional parenting mags, of which there are hundreds) are happy to buy reprint rights.

A rewrite or reslant is another thing entirely. If you change up an essay or article you can sell it as new work and you don't need to mention that a previous version was published elsewhere. Most of my stories are sold several times over - it's how I make money.
This: http://www.goldcoastspeakers.com/burgett-wp4.htm
is a pretty good description of the process.
Diane
post #6 of 7
Many writers make their money by reselling work. The first thing you need to check is your contract with the paper - you need to be sure you still own the work. If you don't have a contract you probably sold First North American Rights but your paper might think otherwise. If you did sell FSNAR you can't sell those rights again - but many magazines (including all the regional parenting mags, of which there are hundreds) are happy to buy reprint rights.

A rewrite or reslant is another thing entirely. If you change up an essay or article you can sell it as new work and you don't need to mention that a previous version was published elsewhere. Most of my stories are sold several times over - it's how I make money.
This: http://www.goldcoastspeakers.com/burgett-wp4.htm
is a pretty good description of the process.
Diane
post #7 of 7
Most boilerplate magazine contracts require first rights. And yes, the editors will care.

I'd recommend taking some of your clips and attaching them to some queries for similar but new/fresh articles. The clips make you a more attractive prospect. And for most magazines, you query first anyway.
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