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Freelance Writing – A Guide on Publication Rights

Publication rightsBesides negotiating work rates with editors, freelance writers should also learn how to negotiate publication rights. It is very important to understand the different publication rights before getting into any publishing agreement or contract with a publisher. This will enable you to make a more informed decision. Here are some of the common publication rights you are likely to encounter:

All rights – This means surrendering all the rights to your work. Since the copyright belongs to the publisher, they can use it as they please without paying any royalties. Some publishers don’t even allow you to include the work in your portfolio

First English language rights – These rights belong to the publisher who is the first to publish your work in the English language. This means that you can still sell your work to other publishers in different languages

First electronic rights – These belong to the publisher who first publishes your work in electronic form. This could be an eBook, a compact disc or a video. However, the publisher does not have the right to publish your work in print form

One-time electronic rights – These rights allow the publisher to only use your work once in electronic form

Internet rights – Also called digital rights, these rights give the publisher permission to publish your work only on the internet. However, some publishers include internet rights within electronic rights. Be sure to get a clarification

Exclusive rights – This is where the publisher sets a specific time period when your work cannot be used elsewhere. For instance, the publisher could demand exclusive rights for 30 days from the date of publication

Non-exclusive rights – As opposed to exclusive rights, non-exclusive rights allow you to submit your work to various publishers at the same time

One-time rights – These rights allow a publisher to use your work only once, even if it has already been published somewhere else. One-time rights can be issued to several publishers, though not simultaneously

Simultaneous rights – Unlike the one time rights, simultaneous rights allow different publishers to publish your work at the same time

Excerpt rights – These rights give the publisher permission to publish excerpts from your work. For instance, a newspaper could buy excerpt rights to publish sections from a book

Archival rights – This allows the publisher to archive your work, thus making it accessible for an indefinite period. Such rights are common with publishers who would want to archive your work for research purposes. However, giving archival rights will prevent you from selling your work elsewhere. Therefore, it would be advisable to offer such rights for a limited time period, after which the rights revert to you

Subsidiary rights – These rights, which apply to books, allow the publisher to publish your book in other formats such as audio, video, screenplay or film

Worldwide rights – The publisher has the right to publish your work in all the countries of the world in different languages

Conclusion These are just some of the rights involved in publishing. Figure out what works best for you before issuing rights to any publisher.

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