I hope this isn't too off-topic for the forum. A magazine has expressed interest in an article I wrote a few years ago. I would love to see the article have a wider audience but don't want to sign away any rights to it. Anyone deal with this before? Do magazines offer royalties or a one-time payment to use it and I keep the copyright? I sincerely don't know what I'm doing when dealing with publishers. I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this. Thank you!
I assume articles are handled the same way as short stories. When I sold a short story to a mystery magazine, the contract gave them the right to publish the story in their magazine. All other rights remained mine. I agreed later to sell rights to publish the story in a book called Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The publisher obtained only that right; all other rights remained mine. Same thing when that book was published in audiobook form. I wrote another story for an anthology of mystery stories. The editor of that story obtained the rights to publish my story as part of that book; all other rights remained with me. The copyrights on those two stories are mine and will be mine until I die and at that point they will belong to my heirs for however many years the law says -- 75, I believe.
I suggest you ask the magazine to send you a contract. Read it and see what it says. If you don't understand it, ask someone who does.
I understand that FIRST PUBLICATION RIGHTS are when the magazine has the right to be the first publisher of the article, so it should not be published anywhere else first.
First serial rights means whoever you are selling rights to can publish it more than once.
Don't sign anything that says you're selling all rights. If you do, you just sold your copyright.
There are also work for hire contracts but I don't know how they work; I think you're sort of an employee and copyright stays with the publisher, not you.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a lawyer, but I believe those three definitions are correct. If you google any of them you should be able to find plenty of sources that offer a definition. I recommend looking for one that has .edu or .org or .gov in the url .
L. L. Thrasher
Edited by: thrasherll on Jul 28, 2013 6:55 PM Where it now says FIRST PUBLICATION RIGHTS in all caps, it formerly gave the wrong term. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I received one payment for each story for each edition in which it was published (audiobook, magazine, Best Mystery book, anthology).
You mention a "wider audience" so I'm going to assume the article was previously published. You'll keep your copyright and byline, in all likelihood, then. You'll most likely be offered a flat payout. Royalties would be expected, say, if the article sat on a website where it could continue to generate income through ads served on the page but print mags are disposable.
Arjay, thanks for the information. The piece was something originally written for a class. The magazine wants it in a slightly different version so I'll probably do a bit of re-writing. You brought up some possibilities I hadn't thought of. As for big money, I don't seem to be the kind of person that happens to, lol.
Thanks wildeatheart. I met with the publisher today and they seem to want the piece but want some revisions to make it fit their style. I may have picked up a proofreading gig which I have been meaning to start doing again so- good day so far.