Monday, February 9, 2009

30-Day Marketing Challenge: Write Once, Sell Twice (or More)

Here's one more guest blog on a topic that's a big part of my marketing plan this year, Reprints. Speaker, consultant, and freelancer Kelly James-Enger is the author of books including Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create your own Writing Specialty and Make More Money and Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money. Visit Become Bodywise for more about her work.

My favorite way to make money as a freelancer has less to do with writing than selling. Instead of writing a new piece, I prefer to sell reprint rights to a story that’s already done. Reprint income typically makes up 10 percent (or more) of my annual gross, yet many freelancers overlook this relatively easy way to boost their bottom line.

Here’s how you can transform completed articles into new paychecks:

Step 1: Read your Contracts
Obviously you can only resell work that you own the rights to. Check your contracts to make sure you’ve retained rights to your work, and that you’re not running afoul of any exclusivity provisions (e.g., you can’t reprint the story during the six-month period after it is first published).

Step 2: Analyze your Inventory
The more stories you have available, the more opportunities you have for additional sales. Popular reprint topics include articles on lifestyle, business, health and fitness, diet, parenting, and travel. “Evergreen” stories—those pieces that never go out of date—are always good bets. My bestsellers have been fitness, nutrition, and relationship pieces. One bridal piece on getting along with your in-laws has been resold seven times to different markets over the last decade.

Step 3: Locate Reprint Markets
So, you know what you have to offer. Now comes finding the markets that want to buy what you have. I’ve found my best reprint markets simply by looking around. Smaller, regional, and special-interest magazines are all possibilities; check out publication directories like The Standard Periodical Directory (your local library should have it on reserve) to look for potential markets.

Step 4: Sell as Many Stories as Possible
I don't try to sell one story at a time; that wouldn’t be worth my while. Instead, when I find a potential market, I send a cover letter and list of story titles and topics to the editor there. I briefly tell her about my background, and offer to send a couple of sample stories for her review so she can see the quality of my work. And make it clear in your letter that you’re interested in selling reprint rights (I use language like “interested in purchasing one-time reprint rights to my work?”), not giving work away for free.

Step 5: Stay in Touch
You also make more from reprints when you develop a client base that will buy stories from you more than once. I maintain a "master list" of stories, divided into categories like "nutrition," "fitness," "wellness," and "relationships." I update the list every few months, and send it with a short email to editors who have purchased from me in the past. The hour or so I spend doing so always results in a few more sales.

As long as your story topic is still relevant and the information it contains still accurate (I do confirm the latter before I send a story out), you can resell the same piece as many times as you like—and multiply your checks in the process.

Have you had reprint success? Tell us about it in the comments.

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