Author Topic: selling work that has been published  (Read 1177 times)

Offline Jane2011

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selling work that has been published
« on: October 23, 2011, 10:40:34 PM »
Several years ago I sold a NF story to a Kung Fu mag about an event in my life. Someone told me I could reword the story and submit it to another publication. Does anyone know if this would get me into trouble?

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2011, 10:46:39 PM »
This sounds like a question for Wolfe. Legal hair-splitting is way out of my zone.
I will wait with you so we both know when the answer comes.  ;D

Skip
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Offline Jane2011

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2011, 10:50:36 PM »
Thank you Skip. :)

Offline Annmarie

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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 03:33:46 AM »
 ;D
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Offline Nick

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 04:02:09 AM »
Writers recycle stuff all the time - I certainly do  ;)

If your story is reworded I can't see why there would be a problem. Even if it isn't, magazines normally only buy FBSR or FNASR. In effect, that gives them the right to use it once in their magazine, and nothing more. As long as you haven't sold the copyright in your article, it remains yours to do with as you please.

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Offline MWM

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 06:56:04 PM »
Yes, agree with Nick. Depends on what rights you have sold - which territory may also be important. If you've sold First North American Serial Rights and wish to offer it to a British publication, then you don't even need to reword. That's syndication, effectively.

But recycling is something most writers who make a living exclusively from their words do all the time. It's more than recycling, though - it's reworking, reangling, restructuring... taking your initial idea or piece and moulding it to a new market, and then another market, and so on... It's always worth going through your back catalogue periodically to see what's due for a re-fashioning and re-airing!

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Offline Gyppo

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2011, 07:37:28 PM »
Both of the above are correct.  

Some people however seem to have the fond illusion that merely changing the characters names in a story is enough.  It isn't.  Re-writing or re-telling a tale, or re-angling an article makes it a completely different piece of work.

Some things don't lend themselves to  re-writing, but some magazines will accept second rights as long as you say where it was previously published.  My little 'funny filler' about vehicle registration numbers has been published three times.  If I live to be 100  the list of previous credits will be longer than the article ;-)

Never sell All Rights unless there's no damned choice.

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2011, 07:52:15 PM »
Allow me to creep from the shadows to help with your question.

I've also heard it said, more often than not, the big ten recycle the same plot, characters, and setting with each bestseller. The only items they change are the names. Sometimes, not even that if the author works a series.

But that's fiction.

To answer your question, it's harder to pull off for nonfiction. Also, publishers hold nonfiction to a much higher standard these days. With investigators fact checking and double-checking, it's only a matter of time before someone blows the whistle.

Recent events over the last two years reinforced this. There's nothing worse for a publisher to see their recent memoirs and nonfiction works called out on CNN as tall tales, untruths, or outright lies.

Yes, it can get you in trouble. A lot of trouble. So much trouble that you'll find it near impossible to sell to another magazine should either magazine realized what you've done. And on top of all that, they can sue you for breach of contract and then they may try to recoup lost revenue because of it.

I strongly recommend you not go this route . . . unless you rewrite the entire article from a new perspective or add new material. In this way, you avoid potential copyright problems because it's new work.

For example, Colin Clark wrote and published The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier in 1996. In 2011, he wrote and published My Week with Marilyn. Essentially, these books are the same event, yet Clark focuses more on one person than another. So, he wrote a more focused experience.

See the difference?

If you wish to reuse an experience for nonfiction work, I recommend you go this route. Don't simply reword the previous work: rewrite it.

Chances are your skills are much sharper now than when you wrote the piece all those years ago. Just be sure the rewrite isn't word-for-word minus a few changes from the previous work.

You can rewrite your experience. Just don't reword your previous article. That should keep you safe from legal action.

Otherwise, you may go down a path that destroyed other authors.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 07:57:37 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Jane2011

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2011, 07:53:04 PM »
Well, shoot then, do you know what UK mag would be interested in a true story where the woman is beaten and left to die? I also show the police reports and public defender letters with  the names blocked out..... ;)

a friend just responded (he used to work for the  Kung Fu mag) that he believes after 5 years the rights bounce back to me.... that it should be ok.

I was thinking that while I am working on my new article I could polish the old one up.

 ;D

Offline Jane2011

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2011, 07:55:34 PM »
Wolfe,
I just read your reply after my last post. Fact checking is not a problem as I have my documents proving what happened to me. Also the story talks about how I turned the situation into something positive.

You gave me great ideas. Thank you!

Wolfe

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2011, 08:05:27 PM »
a friend just responded (he used to work for the  Kung Fu mag) that he believes after 5 years the rights bounce back to me.... that it should be ok.

This depends on the contract. In most cases, magazines will not release copyright back to the author under any amount of time unless the author shares potential revenue or is paid outright from the author.

This is especially true now as more and more magazines go the electronic route. An article, placed electronically, can continue to generate revenue as long as it gets hits and remains on the web.

Traffic attracts advertisers.

Regardless, I assume you signed a contract with the magazine before your article saw publication? Best to review that before you take the advice of someone who may or may not be one-hundred percent sure.

Myself included.

It's one of the many reasons authors use an agent. Anyway, best of luck with your article and writing. Hope this and the previous posts answered your questions.

Back into the shadows I go. . . .

Wolfe

Offline Jane2011

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Re: selling work that has been published
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2011, 08:15:51 PM »
Awww not the shadows yet! lol

I did sign a contract. I have moved,and can't find it DOH! :-\  maybe ask the publisher (I know him via martial arts world)?

I do know that my magazine article is in a collector edition. They have an E-Zine but you can not look at the mag mine is in...

Just when I was getting ready to rewrite! I could post a snippet somewhere here eh?