Proof and Profits: Sell What You Write Again and Again

© 2010 Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress

I have a large brown envelope that I use for my class on selling reprints. As the class begins, I pull from that envelope many different inspirational publications, asking students to speculate what those items might have in common. Seldom are the guesses totally accurate. Those publications all contain the same article which I have sold again and again. “Lessons from Shela: A Daughter’s Legacy,” a story about my physically challenged daughter who died at age 19, has been printed multiple times as well as posted on Internet publications.

Let me anticipate questions about reprint marketing and try to “sell” my philosophy on this topic.

1.    Why bother with reprints?

  • It just makes good sense/cents! Any writers market guide will yield a surprising number of reprint markets—why not add to your income with additional sales of  already completed articles? Increased profit is available at the click of a button. I have at times been paid more for a reprinted article than for the original.
  • Reprints offer increased productivity with minimum output. Submitting reprints can fill in writing “lulls” with focused, productive activity.
  • They increase audience exposure. The first audience that read about my daughter’s legacy was about 250,000 readers. Additional sales increased that audience to over one million.

2.    How do I market reprints?

  • Exactly as they are. Many publications that accept reprinted pieces don’t require changes—they are purchasing a previously published piece “as is.”
  • In condensed form. Sometimes article word count may be altered to meet the needs of different publications. My daughter’s story comes in three sizes.
  • In revised form. Occasionally an article will need updating or reworking for an editor’s specific requirements.
  • In partial form. Sidebars that accompany articles can often take on new life as an article and visa versa.

3.    How do I submit reprints?

  • Send a query asking permission to submit or prepare a cover letter and submit with the complete article, depending on the market’s guidelines.
  • Include at least brief information about the article’s previous publication history.
  • Reveal the rights you are offering. Offer reprint rights or one time rights (to sell a reprint, the writer must own rights to the piece). I have sometimes sold no one first rights, instead offering one time rights only to several non-competing publications.

A new writing year stretches before us. Pull out the articles you’ve sold, dust them off and sell them again and again.

Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress is a freelance writer and speaker whose work includes published articles in Focus on the Family, Lifeway publications, Today’s Christian Woman, and Discipleship Journal, as well as two published books and contributions to eight book compilations. With a heart for encouraging and a passion for offering hope, she leads workshops for writers, teaches holiday seminars, and speaks at ladies events. Visit Lettie




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *