Know what you are selling

Writers seldom make a fortune from selling their stories and articles, so it is important to maximise fees in this competitive market. A degree of business savvy is required, a quality not always found in the creative.

When work is offered to a publisher (magazine or other) and they accept it for publication, they will pay a fee. The basis for making a binding contract must include these three steps known legally as; Offer, Acceptance and Consideration.

Another essential requirement are the contractual Terms. The writer will normally accept the contractual terms presented by the publisher and have no input into their drafting. However, terms should be scrutinised to ensure that they are acceptable to the writer. If they are not, then the writer’s concerns should be submitted to the publisher and agreement reached or in the event of no agreement, and the terms so unpalatable, the writer’s offer withdrawn. A tough decision to make in view of the infrequent incidence of success.

It’s within the Terms that the fee will be stated and payment details e.g. ‘Payment on publication,’ and precisely what the publisher is getting for his money. This commonly allows the work to be published once and perhaps the right reserved to republish later in a publisher’s anthology, special edition etc.

Less common are sales on an ‘All Rights Basis,’ this means that the writer surrenders his copyright and all moral rights. He will not be able to reuse his work or even be credited as the author should it be republished by the publisher. This amounts to a loss of income for the writer.

1 thought on “Know what you are selling”

  1. Sound advice. It’s the old saying, ‘read the small print,’ isn’t it? I read that some household names in the magazine world are taking away writers rights with the ‘All Rights’ agreements. It’s best to know the pitfalls.


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