How often do you celebrate the publication of an article, only to then file it away? You might not see aluminum cans when you open your computer files, but you likely have recyclable material stored inside. A well-written piece can sell over and over again.
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Know your rights
Recycling your writing begins before you submit the first time. When researching markets, avoid those that retain all rights. By selling to first-rights or non-exclusive markets only, you can resell your articles as reprints (also called second rights). (Members: See more on rights.)
How it works
A few years ago I wrote for a family magazine an article titled “Hold On to Summer” about fun things to do with your small children. I added a slice-of-life story from my experience, sharing how valuable those memories were, now that my children are grown.
Once “Hold on to Summer” had been published, I waited 60 days (the time required in my first rights contract with this magazine) then looked at my options:
- Resell the piece as is to a parenting magazine
- Tweak it as a personal essay for a women’s magazine
- Submit the fillers (homemade fun for kids) to a children’s publication
You’ll find similar options with many of the articles you’ll write.
Recently I found an old article I had written about parenting teens, which had been published two years earlier. I had almost forgotten about it.
It needed updating, but with a little work it sold again—first to an online magazine for parents, then, after flipping the topic to reflect a teenager’s point of view, to an editor of a teen market.
Dig through your files. You might be surprised to see what you can recycle.
T. Suzanne Eller is a CWG Mentor for Writing Essentials and Articles That Sell and has published hundreds of articles. She recycled this post from an April 2002 article.