Fight For Your Rights
by Ian Birnbaum
In this column, the time has come to discuss the business of writing: namely, selling rights. After a piece has completed the three steps from last week, you need to decide its destiny by choosing how you wish to sell it: your choices for this sale revolve around your rights. Rights are complicated, rights are legalese, and rights are extremely, terribly boring.
When writing freelance
your writing is a business:
you might just get screwed.
the better to pimp them out-
maximize your cash.
good for you – bad for buyers:
Magazines take your writing,
Print it- first time ever!
to run writing that's been seen.
These rights can only
be sold once: sell wisely your
One-Time Rights for you
are stingy; magazines print
your piece once only.
Some hate one-time rights,
There, that's settled. I hope you enjoyed that, because it took for-fucking-ever. Anyway, there are, of course, many other kinds of rights - like movie rights or the rights to use your piece in electronic form. To cover them all, you really just have to negotiate with the buyer.
There's also the (I think) unfathomable option to sell ALL rights - which is exactly what it sounds like. I never plan on selling this agreement: just imagine how pissed off you would be if your story about Jack and Jill and their adventures on a hilltop became an award-winning movie featuring Viggo Mortensen and Julia Roberts, but the magazine got paid for it instead of you. Remember: your writing is yours, and you need to make sure the editor(s) you're dealing with know exactly what you're selling, and exactly what they can shove up their asses.
And Now, For Something Completely Different: sorry about the boring column content, so here's a bunny with a pancake on its head:
I hope I managed to make a quick discussion on legal creative licensing rights somewhat tolerable. Next week: Query and cover letters!
So, what projects do we have around here? What are we working on? What would we like to get sent in?
And if you see our prestigious editor, Michele, give her some encouragement and make sure she sends something in to a publication that she does not edit. I know you're reading this, Michele: you can't hide from me!
Ian could have done the whole thing in limericks. No, really. Archives