Monday, March 4, 2013

Wordcraft -- Give your story its second act

Have you given your stories a second act? I don’t mean a screenplay “act” but a chance for previously-published stories to find new audiences, maybe even bring in fresh money as reprints.

When I first started sending stories out, I had a backlog of new material to get out. But once the thrill of seeing stories in print wore off, I looked at my contracts and realized the initial publisher had only bought rights for a limited time, maybe even only one time. Stories somebody had been willing to buy began languishing in out of print anthologies, or buried deep in online archives. They were occupying space, even if cyberspace, without paying rent.

So I scanned my favorite writing markets reference for publishers who accepted already-published material. Surprising to me, there was plenty of demand for reprints. The publishers didn’t usually pay as much as for stories that hadn’t been previously published. In some cases, I even accepted nonpayment just to get my stories in front of new readers.

Of course, publishers want assurance that you have the legal right to resell your stories. Check your contracts. I keep folders for mine, but if yours are lost, often the original publisher’s website will list the contract terms. Also, check the new publisher’s requirements. After waiting a year for my rights to a particular story to revert, I learned the publisher I was interested in wanted an eighteen-month hiatus before accepting a reprint.

The subject of reprints is fresh on my mind because of a recent sale of audio rights. Audio books and podcasts are hungry markets. Perhaps because of the volume of material they need, they also, in my experience, can have long response times. Consider fine-tuning your market search for places that accept simultaneous submissions. Just notify one if another accepts you first.

Speaking of market research, fellow blogger Deborah Walker commented on last Monday’s post that the Submitomancy project never got off the ground. But she mentioned another rival for Duotrope’s Digest -- Submission Grinder,

Submission Grinder follows much the same format at Duotrope, without Duotrope’s subscription fee. I compared search results at both, using the criteria of fantasy genre, short story length, electronic submissions, token payment or better, and acceptance of reprints. Although I specified at least token payment, the Grinder brought up several nonpaying listings. It also brought up one recently closed market, and at least a couple that accepted book length works, not short stories. It also had fewer listings than Duotrope, understandable given that the Grinder only opened in January 2013.

Otherwise, there was considerable overlap between market listings for both Grinder and Duotrope. But not complete duplication. The Grinder had some that Duotrope didn’t show, and vice versa. For now, I’m registered at both. And I’d love to hear your experiences with these or other market research sites.


Last week I promised updates on Texas literary festivals and writing conferences first posted in January. Two of the biggest are Southern Methodist University’s announced lineup of authors for its 2013 Literary Festival, and deadlines for Hugo nominations for the Worldcon science fiction and fantasy convention in San Antonio.

SMU’s eight speakers -- poets, novelists and short story writers -- come bearing credentials as New York Times bestsellers, Pushcart Prize winners, Tobias Wolff Award winners, and more. For the complete list, see

Hugo (fan-based) awards nominations for Worldcon close this coming Sunday, March 10. For details and a link to the nomination ballot, see

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