I got word that I’ve resold a short story that came out last year, which means it’ll be reprinted in a different publication. This marks the first time that two different editors have bought the same story of mine. While I’ll have more details after the publisher announces the forthcoming volume, I do have some thoughts about reprints, particularly for writers of short fiction at the early stages of their careers.
When first starting out, the conventional wisdom is to focus your efforts on producing one story after another, and on submitting them to prospective markets one at a time, beginning with the top markets looking the sort of thing you write. Eventually, an editor starts snapping up your work. Maybe several editors do so. That is as it should be. Keep on writing new stuff. However, don’t treat your first few sales as ancient history. This is the time to look into reprint markets. There may well be more of them around than you realize, including several top markets. Make a list for each story you already sold as to where you might get it reprinted. Don’t forget to review your contracts so that you know what rights you’ve retained when you contemplate reselling your stories.
Next, be prepared for rejection all over again. Just because one editor published your story, odds are that others may well turn it down. This does not mean that your sale was a fluke or that it was a poor story. Keep trying. While it’s never a sure thing, reselling that story is probably easier than making the initial sale. Plus, a resale is one of the best ways I know to dispel your qualms about the first sale being a mistake, or about your writing not being good enough. Reprints are incredibly validating.
Now here comes the fun part. There is something utterly delicious about the prospect of a second check arriving when you’ve already been paid once for the hard work. It’s a freebie. To be sure, reprint markets typically pay lower rates per word than first sales, and the rate for that first publication wasn’t exactly astronomical to begin with. No matter, that check is terrific.
Still not persuaded? Then consider that here is the opportunity to get your fiction before new readers, most of whom likely did not read your story when it was initially published. Come to think of it, maybe this point should have come first. After all, isn’t the first and foremost reason why you’re trying to get published precisely because you want people to read your story?