1. philtre

    philtre New Member

    Nov 8, 2019
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    Traditional short story publishing - rights

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by philtre, Nov 8, 2019.

    hey folks :D

    sorry if i'm publishing in the wrong place, but i'm a big newbie to publishing, which i've just realised is a lil bit of a disaster, considering how that's what i'm setting out to do soon!

    from what i understand, when i publish a short story with a magazine, they buy the first serial rights, so the right to publish it (please correct me if i'm wrong). however, would said serial rights infringe on me wanting to publish said short story in my own book (collection of short stories) down the line? and is there anything i should look out for, in terms of rights, when choosing a magazine to submit too? and is this the same for poetry too?

    sorry for the bundle of (horribly explained) questions! of course, the likelihood of my submissions being published is little to none, but i just wanted to make sure i covered all bases before i potentially got myself into trouble later down the line. and thank you to anyone in advance who can shed some light on what i seem to me making a dreadfully obscure topic!

    p.s. completely unrelated, but, when you're submitting a short story to a magazine, do you have to use your real name, even if you want to be published under a pen name? and, if yes, how do you make sure the magazine publishes you by your pen name? thanks again!
    Aceldama likes this.
  2. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

    Jan 3, 2014
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    At some point, the publication rights will revert to you, after which you can do whatever you want. It depends on the contract and individual publication.

    You can publish under any name you want, although they will need your real name to pay you and report taxes.
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

    Aug 24, 2015
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    It depends on the publication. For example, the fantasy e-zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies purchases:

    First World Serial Rights
    First World Electronic Rights
    Non-Exclusive World Audio Rights
    Non-Exclusive World Anthology Reprint Rights

    In their words:

    This means that our payment buys the rights to publish your story on the Beneath Ceaseless Skies website and in our ebooks, and to publish an audio podcast of it if we choose your story for our podcast, and the right to reprint it in any anthology of stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies if we choose your story for one of our anthologies, and distribute that anthology anywhere in the world.

    You can’t publish that story as a first-run or “new” story anywhere else in the world, and you can’t have it appear anywhere else, in print or online or as audio, before or for 180 days after we publish or podcast it. But after that you can have it reprinted online and/or in a reprint magazine and/or in a reprint anthology, like one of the many Year’s Best collections, and you can resell non-exclusive audio rights, like to one of the many fiction podcast zines.

    Other publications may buy First North American Serial Rights or First English Language Serial Rights, which are a little narrower in scope. And some might just buy plain old Serial Rights, though this will obviously consume all of the first rights if you haven't already sold them.

    Most publications explicitly state which rights they seek to buy in their submission guidelines, and some have a sample contract available.

    The serial rights themselves wouldn't, but publishers usually buy a period of exclusivity after the story is published during which it can't be published elsewhere. For BCS, that's 180 days. Some are shorter. Some are longer. Some publishers don't buy any exclusivity at all, though usually they ask that you don't sell the story to another market before they publish it.

    Publishing a story in your own collection somewhere down the line would be a matter of reprint rights.

    You should be wary of anybody trying to buy:

    • All rights
    • IP rights (the rights to the world and the characters themselves)
    • Exclusive reprint rights
    • Perpetual exclusivity
    These things aren't normal in the short story world, though they can be elsewhere (like how DC and Marvel usually own the rights to the characters their writers create).

    As for poetry, it's mostly the same as far as I can tell. However, my experience is limited.

    Yeah. Like Cephus said, they need your real name for payment and tax stuff. Generally a pen name is something you'd explicitly mention in your cover letter, and on the byline of the story itself. I've never heard of a publisher refusing to credit someone by a pen name, though some might veto a specific name if they find it ridiculous.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
    Aceldama, Catrin Lewis and jannert like this.
  4. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Jan 28, 2014
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    This. Especially the parts about reading the contract before you sign it, and rejecting anything to do with signing over all rights.

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