The Truth About Reprints
One constant, recurring query we get at Abyss & Apex 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. And there’s always The Wayback Machine. 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 that 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 us to look at it if your piece has ever been published online. Since we buy first electronic rights, those have already been taken by your previous publisher – even if it was on your blog and you published it yourself. (Note: Posting a story on private sites like members-only critique groups or on Patreon does NOT count as publication.) No matter how obscure the venue was or how little (or no) 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; so unless you are a big name author and we ask for right to an obscure piece of your work, your reprints are the last thing on our minds. When you, as an author, try to sell us your reprinted story anyhow you give us 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.) We at A&A don’t even want to hear about reprints unless we solicit them. Nevertheless, since we get the same questions over and over and over—and they are the majority of our queries some months—we codified our response in our guidelines.
We have a simple, logical rule for reprints. Was your story published in a venue where 1,000 paper 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
Editorial © 2010 Wendy S. Delmater. All other content copyright © 2010 Abyss & Apex Publishing.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish