Reprints: What's Old is New Again
What is a Reprint?
A "Reprint" refers to a piece that has been previously published. When you submit a piece that has been previously published, you are submitting a reprint.
Let's pause for a moment and go over what is meant by "previously published." Some publications take a lenient approach, and only consider work that has been published in a print or online journal to be previously published. However, others are much more strict and consider work that has been publicly available on the internet — such as on your personal blog or Facebook page — to be previously published. You can only sell First Rights to works that are not considered previously published.
For that reason, we discourage posting any creative work that you hope to have published some day, unless it is password-protected in some way. If you join an online writers' workshop or critiquing group, make sure the general public will not have access to the works posted. Otherwise, you may have trouble placing that work when you submit to publishers because they consider it to be previously published, and you may even lose First Rights. (Don't lose your First Rights accidentally. Guard them greedily like a dragon guarding its most precious treasure.)
Do many publications accept Reprints?
Most publishers only want to publish work that has never been published before, so they don't accept reprints. Here are our statistics on the numbers of current publications that allow reprint submissions by category (as of 01 June 2020):
|Category||Reprints OK||No Reprints||Not Stated*|
|Fiction||500 (14%)||2,498 (69%)||614 (17%)|
|Nonfiction||322 (8%)||2,844 (74%)||652 (17%)|
|Poetry||430 (12%)||2,603 (72%)||587 (16%)|
|Visual Art||203 (14%)||932 (63%)||333 (23%)|
However, there are a few publications that specialize in reprints, such as:
How do I find publications that accept Reprints?
Duotrope's Publisher Search feature includes an option to only show markets that accept Reprints.
Is there anything I should know about submitting Reprints?
There is some basic etiquette that you should follow when submitting reprints. Always let the publication know that it is a reprint and be sure to tell them where and when it was previously published (so they can credit the previous publication properly). If you know what rights were assumed by the original publisher, let them know that as well.
If they accept the piece, the new publisher may need to contact the original publisher to request permission, and you may need to help facilitate that.
Another thing to be aware of regarding reprints is that most publications pay less for reprints than they pay for original material, if they pay at all.
Should I bother with submitting Reprints?
Because they are few and far between, it can be challenging to find publishers that accept reprints. Whether or not it's worth your time is entirely up to you. Many find that ignoring reprints and focusing on creating, refining, and submitting new work is preferable to going through the trouble of finding new homes for previously published work.
However, we've all been in some heartbreaking situations where a publisher of a beloved piece goes out of business shortly after publishing it. In those cases, it might be worth it to you to find that piece a new home.
Also, it's quite an accomplishment to have a piece reprinted in a "best of" annual. While many of those only accept nominations from the original publisher, a few do allow submissions directly from authors.
Good luck finding a second life for your creative work!