If you sell “all rights” to your manuscript, then the publisher owns your work, and you cannot print it elsewhere without getting written permission from them. Try not to sell all rights if possible unless you are signing a work-for-hire contract. You normally receive a flat fee for these, and the publisher retains all rights, and the copyright is in the name of the publishing house. Sometimes your financial state may dictate that it would be worthwhile to do some pay-for-hire work. Once you turn in the completed work, you are normally paid in full within 30 days.
“Book rights,” however, are different from other rights. When you sign a contract to write a book, the document is normally 12-14 pages, and the publisher holds your rights on that book as long as it stays in print. You may only use the amount of material that falls under “Fair Use” when quoting material from your own books. If you want to excerpt articles or stories though from one of your books in print, normally the legal department of your publishing house will give you permission. After all, the publicity is good for the publishing house. As I previously mentioned, if you are selling an article or story to be included in someone else’s book, I’d recommend selling one-time rights.
This concludes the series on ‘Rights.”
If your article or story has not been published, I recommend you sell “first rights,” rather than simultaneous rights. Many editors will not show interest if you are shot gunning your material to a number of publications at once when the piece has never been published. Plus, you will usually be paid more for first rights.
However, once your article is published for the first time, by all means feel free to sell “reprint rights,” sometimes called second rights, on it. You will probably earn a third to a half as much for reprint rights. Nevertheless reprint rights are an excellent way to earn extra money by selling your manuscripts over and over.
“One-time rights” give a publisher the opportunity to print your material one time. Use this terminology when selling a piece for a book compilation since books take a long time to come out in print. In the meantime, you can resell reprint rights on the piece. Also, one-time rights may be confusing to the editor, who may wonder whether or not your material has been published before. As a result you may be paid a lower amount than first rights would be given. Also, you can offer one-time rights to publications in other countries, particularly in the Third World, on material for which you own the copyright.
Rights are different than copyright. Be careful not to confuse them. When you sell “First Rights” to a publication, you are offering one-time rights to publish your material before you send it to another publication. Sometimes these are called First North American Rights, which includes the U.S. and Canada, or First North American Serial Rights if it is a serial publication.
Once your manuscript is printed by the publication to which you sold First Rights, you may then sell “Reprint Rights,” often called second rights. When you sell Reprint Rights, your duplicate manuscripts can be sent out simultaneously to many different publications. Try to avoid selling to two publications with overlapping audiences, however, such as two periodicals or take-home papers published by the same company or denomination.
When you sell First Rights or Reprint Rights, you still own the rights to that work. After it is printed, the rights revert back to you. Selling reprint rights doesn’t affect your rights in any way. Someday you may want to put that material in a book.