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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Five Good Reasons--to Sell Reprints

According to my survey of fulltime freelancers earlier this year, only 2 percent of respondents are selling reprints to their work. I find that surprising and hope to convert some of the other 98 percent.

Sure, many writers say that selling reprints isn't worth the time or effort. I say, think again--and consider these five excellent reasons to jump on the reprint train:

1. Great per-hour rate. Let me give you an example--I have a local magazine that buys a reprint from me four times a year. She emails me, asking if I have something relevant, I send her the story, and she sends me a check. Total time invested? Maybe 15 minutes. Payoff? $75. That's a $300/hour rate...not bad at all.
2. Bigger platform. I've sold reprints to markets throughout the country, which helps build my platform both as a writer as a fitness/health expert. (In addition to freelancing, I'm an ACE-certified personal trainer and public speaker on topics including healthy habits and stress management, so I want my name "out there" as much as possible. And the bigger my platform, the better chance I have of selling my next book to a publisher, too.)
3. More book sales. When I sell a reprint about a health topic, I include a bionote ("Kelly James-Enger is the author of books including Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life, with Ellie Krieger, R.D.). If it's a piece on infertility or parenting, I'll mention my book, The Belated Baby, which is for parents who experienced infertility. Not every reprint market will provide a bionote, but when they do, I get some free publicity.
4. More assignments. I just finished two original articles for a reprint market after the editor asked me if I was willing to write new pieces for her. The per-word rate wasn't as high as I'm paid by national magazines, but each story only took a few interviews and several hours to write, which made it worthwhile. And editors coming to me with work means I spend less time marketing.
5. Multiple sales--and free money. Sure, reprint markets may not pay that much--I have steady markets that pay only $35 or $50 for one-time reprint rights per story. Paltry, right? But almost all of those "low-paying" markets buy more than one story from me, often at once. One regional women's magazine requested about twenty stories from me earlier this year. I sent them in several batches so she could select the ones she wanted to use. So far, she's purchased eight of them, for a total of $520--and I haven't had to do any more work. I just find a check in the mail for $60 or $70 every month or so. That kind of "free" money is my favorite kind to get.

Of course to sell reprints, you need to retain reprint rights to your work. Next post, we'll talk about how to negotiate more writer-friendly contracts.


  1. I've been wanting to tap more into selling reprints--I've written hundreds of regional articles. Are you going to do another post about finding reprint markets? Or do you have suggestions. This is a great topic. Timely for me, anyway! Thanks

  2. Like Kristen, I'd love to know about finding reprint markets. I used to have a page on my website listing reprints available, and I used to send lists of available reprints to regional magazines, but usually the response was either "we don't buy reprints - how about writing an original article for $40?" or I'd get the cold shoulder. I've stopped focusing my attention in this area, because I wasn't getting much ROI.

  3. YES! I wrote the book ... literally! ... on this! Make Money to Write About Your Kids has been called the Writer's Market for the parenting/family niche. I've been selling reprints in this niche for over 5 years now in over 130 magazines and it is quite lucrative! Great piece!