Found Money: My System for Selling More Article Reprints

Editor

Get extra paydays selling article reprintsBy Carol J. Alexander

You’ve interviewed your sources, done your research, and worked your tail off to create a stellar piece of work — for a one-time gig.

Don’t settle for that single paycheck when you can sell the same story again and again to the right markets. Roughly one-third of my freelance writing income comes from selling article reprints.

Here’s how I do it:

What you can re-sell

You can re-sell anything you write so long as you retain the rights to it.

When you sell first rights or one-time rights to an article, after the terms of the contract are fulfilled, you are free to sell the piece elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate contracts if they ask for more rights than you want to sell.

Where you can re-sell it

Generally reprints are sold to non-competing markets — different audiences, regions, or countries.

If you write “Supplements for the Menopause Years” for a woman’s magazine, a health magazine would have a different audience.

Chicago Parent and Houston Family cover different regions.

Chickens Magazine and Practical Poultry represent similar audiences in different countries.

Where to find markets

Generally publications with a smaller circulation, regional magazines, trade publications, and newspapers purchase reprint rights.

Haunt the bookstore, peruse the digital pubs found on Issuu.com, and scour the Writer’s Market for publications that buy reprints.

Read a magazine’s submission guidelines online or email the editor and ask if they purchase reprints and what they typically pay. Some publications have a set rate. Some will pay what you ask.

I have made anywhere from $15 to $50 on article reprints in regional markets. That might not sound lucrative, but I have an extensive list of publications that purchase reprints in one niche. If I sell one article 20 times for an average of $35, that’s $700.

If that article already appeared for first rights in a national magazine for $400-$500 or more, then I think pitching the reprint market is worth my time.

How to submit your work

I group potential markets by niche in my email address book.

When I have a reprint to submit, I write a snappy cover letter (email) describing the story, listing a few places my work has been published, and what I’d like to get for this story. I mention that if they are interested in the piece I will forward it as a Word document with an invoice. I then paste the text of the story after the email.

Keep your eyes peeled and continually add to your list of markets. The more publications you have to submit to, the more opportunity you have of re-selling your work.

Have you made money selling reprints? Tell us how — and how much — in the comments below.

Carol J. Alexander writes from Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Her work has appeared in over 30 national and regional magazines, several websites/blogs, and her local newspaper.

36 Comments

  1. Darlene Strand

    Corrected my email address, will be using from now on, until later notice. Thank you Carol for every writing suggestion posted. I find everything helpful.

  2. Christina Katz

    Hi Carol and Carol!
    I have been training writers like Carol how to deepen and expand regular gigs in regional markets for many years and I have written two books that discuss how to do it. One of these books goes into quite a bit of detail on the topic and the other discusses how to offer reprints as part of your suite of services. There is something of an art to submitting reprints. Even though it may not bring in as much money as pitching new articles, submitting reprints is one of the most gratifying and consistent gigs a writer can angle for in the gig economy. It may not suit every writer, especially hard-core generalists, but for the types of writers I work with who establish and build distinct niches, which bring them repeat sales year after year, selling reprints makes perfect sense.

    • Carol J Alexander

      Thanks for chiming in, Christina. You’re right, a 500-word blog post cannot possibly give all the how-to’s of marketing reprints. Hopefully someone here is inspired enough to dig deeper into the topic.

  3. Lorraine Reguly

    Just wondering… What system do you use for invoicing?

    • Carol J Alexander

      Nothing expensive, Lorraine. I made a template on Word, and just plug in the info each time. I came up with my own numbering system, too, in case the publication ever needs an invoice number.

    • Carol Tice

      Ha! I tend to track submissions in word docs as well. I hate Excel and everything like it.

      I use Freshbooks for invoicing, and dates for POs — like 013114 would be today’s invoice date for me. I find that useful for tracking things.

    • Lorraine Reguly

      Great tips – thanks, ladies. I have been using my own creation of a template in Word, too, for my monthly ‘bill’ for my main client. I will have to develop a more sophisticated system, though, and use Carol’s numbering system. I like the idea of using dates as invoice numbers, and have heard of Freshbooks before, so I’ll look into that.

      Your info is much appreciated!

  4. Holly Bowne

    Great post! I’ve had some success re-selling my articles to regional parenting magazines.

    And just like Marcie, a big “thank you” to you Carol, for mentioning Issuu. I was completely unaware of it. What an awesome resource!

    • Carol J Alexander

      There are other digital magazine platforms out there, Holly. Just none as user-friendly for this purpose as Issuu. BlueToad and PageTurnPro are a few examples.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for the useful resources Carol!

  5. Karen Lange

    Excellent advice, Carol J.! I have done this on a small scale but need to get more proactive about it. Thanks for the nudge and inspiration. Thanks, Carol T., for hosting!

    • Carol J Alexander

      You’re welcome, Karen. Let me know if you have more success.

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