The Truth About Reprints
by Wendy S. Delmater, Editor
One constant, recurring query we get is the question, “Do you take reprints?” Despite a very clear statement in our general guidelines that says, in boldface, that we do not accept unsolicited reprints there seem to be an awfully large number of writers who hope that they can talk me into buying their previously published works.
Maybe if I link this editorial to that section of our guidelines I can clear up some of the confusion. At least, I hope it’s confusion. I live to be positive, people. It could not possibly be that no one is reading our guidelines, now, could it? Perish the thought.
First of all, I’d like to point out the fact that once your story is on the internet it can leave a permanent record: even if the site is pulled, Google may have a cached document. As an example, let’s take my flash fiction story “Snake Oil” which was published online April 30, 2004. If you Google on the title and my name, you get this
…just for starters. My first electronic rights to this story are gone, people.
Example number two: Before safewrite.livejournal.com was my main online presence I had a website, where I posted a sample of my fiction – something that had been sold to Gateway SF in 2002. A Google search eight years later brought up this
Again, my first e-publishing rights to that short story are gone.
The bottom line for previously e-published stories: don’t even ask if your piece has ever been published online. Since we buy first electronic rights, those have already been taken by your previous publisher. No matter how prestigious they were or how little or how much money you made: Sorry, but we cannot accept any story that has previously been put up on the internet. End of story.
Limited print publication.
This leaves the subject of previously print-published stories. We are an original fiction market; unless you are C.J. Cherryh or Michael Swanwick your reprints are the last thing on our minds. So when you, as an author, try to sell me your story anyhow you give me the initial impression that you are a one-hit wonder who cannot come up with something new (an impression I’m sure you don’t wish to make.) I don’t even want to hear about reprints! Nevertheless, since I get the same questions over and over and over— they are the majority of my queries some months—it is time to codify my response.
I have a simple rule, logical for reprints. Was your story published in a venue where 1,000 copies (or less) were printed and distributed? Really, it’s that simple. If your story was physically printed less than a thousand times, in one venue only, we might look at it. A good example of the sort of thing we might consider is a short story done for a booklet only distributed at a convention as part of the programming. But understand that what we really want is original fiction, so you are already dealing with a massive hurdle to overcome.
Reprints. Why even bother sending them to A&A? Write us something new.
–Wendy S. Delmater
Editor, Abyss & Apex Magazine of Speculative Fiction
Editorial © 2010 Wendy S. Delmater. All other content copyright © 2010 Abyss & Apex Publishing.
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