The Language of Freelance Marketing
Newbies usually enter the world of publishing with the notions of submitting
articles, receiving prompt replies and getting published. After all, the
next-door-neighbor did just that, and now she has a byline and everything. Maybe
your neighbor's lucky. Maybe she's lying. In all probability, she's established.
She probably spent the first few years of her career querying and getting rejected
just like you. After countless rejections and what seemed like years of effort,
editors started recognizing her name. Her constant queries made them think that
she was in it for good, and she wouldn't let them down if they trusted her with an
assignment. They did, and she didn't cave in. She excelled at what she did, because
this was the big break she'd been waiting for. And once she was published, there
was no looking back.
For freelancers, knowing the basic terminology "before" they begin can be a valuable
lesson in earning a few extra dollars in that initial stage. When I started my
freelancing career, I knew nothing of rights, simultaneous submissions, querying
or varying payment rates. All I knew was - I could write. Everything else, I learnt
on the job. You will too. But just to make your stay a little less frustrating, and
a lot more enjoyable, I've listed a few concepts that will help you immensely as you
contact editors and try to make them pay you for your words.
It's yours as soon as you have those words on paper. You don't have to register
copyright to claim it, though if you're writing a novel or book, it's a wise
investment. Registered copyright is proof enough for a court of law, and is
extremely valuable in cases of dispute. However, for short materials like articles
or essays, copyright needn't be registered. You can however, club a number of
essays and register them together.
Reprints are articles, essays or pieces that have already been published. If you
own the copyright (more on that later), and want to sell the piece again to another
publication, it will be termed as a reprint. Most publications pay much less for
reprints and some don't accept them at all. However, for a freelancer, sometimes
reprints bring more income than original articles do.
Earlier, magazines asked for all rights to articles. Even today, in many countries,
including my own (India), most magazines want to keep all the rights ensuring that
the articles in their magazine remain unique to them. However, this trend no longer
exists in America, Canada and England, and is making headway into other nations as
well. Now, almost all magazines in these nations refrain from asking for all rights
to the work. Others have opened their doors for reprints, which is a boon for
writers. Let's look at some of the different kinds of rights.
This means that the article must not have been published before, and cannot be used
again after it has been published in this particular publication. Never give up all
rights for a measly sum of money. If you're selling all rights, make sure you're
being paid what you deserve.
First Serial Rights:
These usually pertain to some country. For e.g., First North American Serial Rights,
or First British Serial Rights. Although the article mustn't have been published in
the country prior to this, you are free to submit elsewhere after publication.
As more and more publications archive their articles online, they are asking for
electronic rights. This means that they can carry your article online. Usually a
time-period is specified. Also, electronic rights are usually non-exclusive, meaning
that you can sell this article elsewhere although it will continue to appear on this
A fairly new addition to the list of rights, this means that the publication is free
to use your work on a Compact Disk.