How to Sell Reprint Articles – Tips for Freelance Writers

Selling the same article over and over – or different articles based on the same research – is what “selling your reprint articles” is all about. These tips for successful writers are based on info from freelance writer Gordon Burgett, author of Sell and Resell Your Magazine Articles.

Before the tips, a quip:

“To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.” ~ Charles Caleb Colton (an English cleric and writer, 1780-1832).

Selling magazine articles and book manuscripts has always been a challenge for writers — even the most successful ones! But, a key to earning a living as a writer is to sell your work over and over…and Sell and Resell Your Magazine Articles by Burgett is a fantastic resource for experienced and novice freelance writers. Click the cover for details, and read on for several tips on selling reprint magazine articles…

How to Sell Your Reprint Articles – Tips for Freelance Writers

“Once your article has appeared in print from a first-rights sale, you can immediately offer that very same article, without change, to any other editor you think might buy it,” writes Burgett. “It couldn’t be more straightforward.”

But remember to check your contract or writer’s agreement before you start offering reprint or second rights! All magazines have different copyright rules – and some magazines have different rules for print versus online articles.

When You’re Writing a Query Letter for a Reprint Magazine Article…

Make your article come alive! “Show the editor that you can write, discuss the topic on which you’ve focused your obvious talents, and explain why that topic would find high favor with her readers,” writes Burgett. This is the same as pitching an original article – you have to grab your readers by the throat from the first sentence.

Tell what you are offering – what rights are involved. Tell which magazine or website bought the first rights, where and when the article was published, and what rights you are selling (reprint or second rights). For more info on writers’ rights, read Magazine, Article, and Book Rights for Writers.

Describe additional items, such as sidebars or photos. Selling a reprint article may involve writing new sidebars or offering new photos – this could freshen the original article, and make it more valuable to the editor. Your sidebar could target this magazine’s readers, which creates a more specific article and angle.

Mention your credentials as a writer or expert. When you’re offering reprint or second rights, the article really does stand on its own, which means your writing credentials are secondary to the article itself. “The quality of the reprint cover letter will probably fill in as many gaps as the editor needs,” writes Burgett. Fellow scribes, I’ve learned that this is true when you’re pitching original articles, too. Your cover letter, article, idea, voice and style may pack more punch than your bio.

Know what to charge for reprint articles. The rule of thumb is 50% of what you originally sold the piece for. So, if you sold the article for $1,000, then you can ask for $500 for the reprint. Don’t mention this in your reprint query letter…if an editor is interested, he or she will broach the topic. What you charge is up to you – perhaps the additional exposure and the charge you get from seeing your words in print is payment enough (and you’ll let it go for free)!

Finding magazine markets for your reprint articles. To find magazines, scour the ever-touted Writer’s Market. Look on magazine stands and in libraries for publications that your article might fit. Some e-zines and websites may accept reprint articles; for example, I’ve seen articles reprinted from Women’s Health magazine on WebMD. Burgett recommends not offering your reprint to a magazine that you pitched a query to, who didn’t buy it. However, if a couple years have passed and if they didn’t get back to you on your original pitch, then it might be worth a try. For info on writing for the trades, read 7 Tips for Writing for Trade Magazines.

“The best thing about reprints is that through diligent and creative marketing, you can resell the same piece many times, so when the final tally is made, you might have earned more money for churning the same winning prose repeatedly than you made for selling the original,” says Burgett.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or tips on selling reprint articles to magazines, please comment below! 

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