Friday 3 October 2014

How to Sell a Lot of Short Story Reprints: Part 2

This is the second post on reprints. The first post can be found here. The take home message was more submissions will probably lead to more sales.

This post comes with the same privoso. Every writer is different. You mileage will vary. And if you disagree with me, do feel free to comment, because I'm interested in different opinions.

So after having made 67 reprint sales this year. (Yes, it's gone up from the last post). I thought I'd share my process with you. This is how I make my reprint sales, I hope you'll find it interesting.

Selecting a Reprint Venue

Once you've found your reprint venue, you've got to make a decision where to submit to first. I think about these things when I'm deciding (and probably some more, which I've forgot):

  • Pay* 
  • Speed* of editorial response
  • Acceptance rate*
  • Fit 
  • Reprint rights requested
  • Prestige 
  • Story illustration (I love, love, love someone illustrating my work)
  • Whether or not you've sold there before
* You can sort a Grinder search for these three criteria

On pay

Some writers feel strongly about pay. I don't mind what you do. I say do what you must to keep your writing life happy and motivated. I tend to like to get paid. Exceptions might be when it's for a charity anthology, or for a friend, or there's good art, or its a poem or micro work, or I feel like it.
It's your call.

But my pay for reprints has ranged from 0-7 cents per word or a set amount (f'instance $25 for any story length). 1 cent a word is what you might get paid if you get published in a anthology from a reputable publisher. Personally, I consider 3 cents and above to be a very good rate for reprints.

On fit

One criteria you will probably use, is your sense of how well your particular story will sell at a venue. If you've sold to that venue before, it means that the editor likes your work. So send them so more.
Otherwise, I can offer no help.
I'm particularly bad at judging whether or not my stories will sell. A fact that I find peculiar.
So I'll say this. Of course, send appropriate material to appropriate venues. Don't send high fantasy to a hard SF venue. But  don't self-reject.

If  I see a themed anthology that accepts reprints, I'll often spend some time looking through my list of available reprint and thinking really hard about what might fit. No kidding. It's not always immediately obvious. I've certainly made sales for stories that I've had to think hard about before deciding it fits the theme.

On rights

It's not unusual for a venue to state in their guidelines that they accept reprints but not to specify what kind of reprint rights they're looking for.
When you get the contract the venue might have asked for:

Exclusive reprint rights (meaning that you can't sell the reprint again for a determined time)
Non-exclusive reprint rights. (meaning you can sell the reprint again immediately).

I'm often not in a position to sell exclusive reprint rights, because I'll have sold these with the first sale (some venues take first rights and non-exclusive reprint rights so that they can produce a end of year anthology)

This has happened to me a few times. I've always written back to the editor, explained, and the contract has been amended in an amicable way.

How to Make a Reprint Sub

In the normal way. I prefer to write a very succinct cover letter. Don't forget to add when and where the story was first published and that you own reprint rights.

Submission Strategy Suggestions

Some things you might find useful. Mileage will vary for some of these.

  • Keep good records. I just keep lists in Word document, but other people like databases
  • Decide the number of reprint subs you want out,then never allow yourself to drop below that number.
  • Make reprint submissions frequently, so that you don't miss venues and so that you have to have a whole day subbing.
  • Do your writing first. Make subs when your brain is firing on a less creative setting. 

Here's one I made earlier: 'Sibyl' in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 2014


  1. I've made three reprint subs since your first post. I hope to do at least five more next week, so we'll see. Thanks, Deborah!

    1. Great work, I like to do a little bit every day.

  2. Another thing to add is that some markets will not take a reprint if the story is still available online. "Liquid Imaginations" is one of them.