There’s no doubt that publishing rights can be confusing. Hopefully, this will help clear things up a bit.
What are the different Rights that a publisher might ask about?
These are some of the basics:
First Rights: First rights gives a publisher permission to be the first to print your article. You can only sell First Rights on an article or story once.
One-time Rights: The publication agrees to publish your piece only once. This may or may not be for a work that has already been published somewhere else. After that, the rights revert back to you, the author.
Reprint Rights (or second serial rights): If your article has already appeared elsewhere, any subsequent publisher will purchase Reprint Rights. Many publishers will want to know when and where the piece previously appeared. It is important to note that most publishers consider any content posted on a website or your blog as “previously published”. In other words, you will probably not be able to offer First Rights on blog entries or Challenge entries (see next question). These would need to be sold as Reprint Rights.
Regional Rights (i.e. First American Rights, First Australian Rights): When you sell Regional Rights, you are allowing your piece to be published for the first time in that particular region. You could offer one publisher First North American Serial Rights (FNASR), another publisher First European Rights, and yet another First Electronic Rights. A tip: Save First Electronic Rights for last, as some print publications will not consider work that has been previously published online.
Anthology Rights: This gives the publisher the right to publish your work in a one-time collection. Many anthology pieces are reprints.
All Rights: If a publisher purchases all rights, you no longer own the article or manuscript. That means that if you wish to publish that piece elsewhere, you will need to get permission from the publisher first.
Work-for-Hire - This is similar to All Rights in the sense that once you are paid for a project, the piece is no longer yours. It belongs to the publisher, who is then able to rework it, edit it, and alter it in any way they choose, without compensating you for it.
Exclusive / Non-Exclusive Rights. If you sell Exclusive Rights, you are agreeing that you will not sell the article elsewhere for a specific period of time (as agreed upon in the contract). Once that period has ended, you are free to sell the piece again (as a reprint). Non-exclusive Rights allows you to sell the same piece to multiple publications at the same time. Providing, of course, that none of the publishers require Exclusive Rights.
Is it true that everything I post on FW is considered “published”?
Yes. Anything that appears on a public site, whether that be a blog, a public message board, the FaithWriters site, or something else, is considered published, in the strictest sense of the word.
Many publishers will not care if the piece is on the FW website. However, it is important that you mention it whenever submitting an article or a query.
If you have a book or long piece you are working on, we do recommend that you not post it on the FaithWriters site. Book publishers are stricter when it comes to previously published work. And although it rarely happens, we’d hate to see someone steal your idea or work, making it impossible for you to get it published down the road. If you would like feedback on a longer work, we recommend you email it to a writer friend or two.
Hopefully, this has helped clear up a couple of questions you may have about Rights. Feel free to ask for further clarification or help if you need it.