Publishing

Can I Resell an Article That's Already Been Published?

Q: When submitting an already published article—which carried one-time rights—what information do I owe the new editor?—Jack C. A: You need to tell the new editor the name of the publication and the issue date in which your article first appeared. Also, make it clear that you sold them only first serial rights, and...

Can You Publish Letters From Other People in Your Work?

Q: I plan to write a series of prank letters to politicians, celebrities and manufacturing firms, and then publish my letters and the replies in a book of humor. Do the replies to my letters become my property to publish in my book? —Gene M. A: Letters sent to you aren’t your property—or, at...

Understanding ISBNs and What They Mean for Your Book

Q: What is an ISBN, and what’s its purpose? Can I apply for one without being a company/publisher? —Kathryn N. A: An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that identifies a book for purposes of commerce and supply chains (before 2007 it was a 10-digit number, in case you see it...

Does Selling All Rights Mean I Can't Use the Same Topic Again?

Q: If a magazine buys all rights to a non-fiction article I wrote about my granddaughters’ medical problems, can I have other articles or a book published which would include the same information? I use the same description of the disease for everything I write about it.  So far I have only published articles...

What's Considered a "Clip"?

Q: Many times publishers indicate they want “published clips” along with a query letter. What exactly are they? —Diane H. A: Published clips are any articles or stories that have been printed in magazines or newspapers. So, if you wrote “How to Train Your Husband-To-Be” and it was printed in the latest issue of...

What is Co-Publishing?

Q: I’ve been to a few writing conferences and have heard several authors say they “co-published” their books. What does co-published mean? –Charles M. A: A co-publishing agreement is one where the author and the publisher share publication costs to get the book in print. This is more common in poetry and experimental fiction...

Can You Get Published if You're a Teenager?

Q: I’ve been a writer since junior high (not a very good one) but now I’m 16 years old in High School and I feel very strongly that my work and skill has gotten a lot better. So much better that my work might just be publishing material. I was wondering would my age...

What to Charge for Online Writing

Q: Do you have any suggestions on compensation for writing online? –Jillian L. A: Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer for this question. While there is pay for online writing, there isn’t much. Worse yet, it’s often hard to come by unless you are an expert in a field that lacks experts or you’re writing...

What is an M.F.A.?

Q: What exactly is an M.F.A. and how is it beneficial to writers? –Matthew G. A: While the initials M.F.A. sound like an outer-space contraption that the government is trying to hide in the desert, it’s actually a very valuable credential earned by some writers. An M.F.A., or Master of Fine Arts, is one...

UPDATED: Can You Write the Sequel to Someone Else's Book?

NOTE TO READERS: AFTER WRITING THIS Q&Q I READ A COPYRIGHT LAW THAT DIDN’T JIVE WITH MY ANSWER, SO I CONTACTED AN ATTORNEY TO SET THINGS STRAIGHT. GLAD I DID, BECAUSE I WAS OFF. AFTER SOME DIGGING WE FOUND THAT THE GREAT GATSBY WILL ENTER THE PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2020, NOT 2010 AS I...

What is a Kill Fee?

Q: I got a contract for a magazine story that I’m writing, and it makes reference to a “kill fee.” What is a kill fee and why would a publisher and/or writer use one?—Frank A: A kill fee what you get if your editor decides not to buy your story after all. For example,...

Are Men Writing Romance?

Q: I notice that there are very few male authors or stories written from the male point of view in Romance novels. Could this be because most editors or publishers in this genre are women? The best romance novel ever written, in my opinion, was “LOVE STORY,” and a male wrote it from a...

How Do I Track Book Sales?

Q: Is there a way to find out the current sales for a given book that may (or may not) be in print? —Tony P. A: The short answer to this is no. Due to the volume of distribution channels, there is no outlet where you can find an accurate and reliable sales figure...

Where Can Authors Find Contract Forms?

Q: My co-author and I have been asked to provide a collaboration agreement to our agent.‑ Where can‑we find a template for creating this document?—Michele A: Templates for author contracts can be found in Tad Crawford’s Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers (Allworth Press). It’s a great resource for finding all the...

Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction

Q: I see these two terms bandied about on almost every literary blog and Q&A: Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction. What are the differences between the two?–Rook V. A: If I made a list of differences between literary and mainstream fiction, it’d look nearly identical to Janet Paszkowski’s “Defining Artless Fiction: 24 Basic Differences...

How Many Rejections Does it Take to Self-Publish a Book?

Q: I’ve submitted my manuscript and query letters to various agents and publishers and have received several rejections. I feel this book is pretty marketable. How many agent rejections and how many publisher rejections do you think I should take as a signal to self-publish this book? I’m pretty tenacious. If need be, I...

How to Find Out Who Agented a Book

Q: When an agent isn’t listed in the author’s book acknowledgements, is there a way to search backwards to find that agent from the author, journalistic facilitator or publisher? Thanks for your expertise. —Alice Lazzarini A: Finding out who was the agent of a particular book can certainly be tricky, especially if the person...

Article Black Holes

Q: I submitted two stories to a nursing magazine after consulting the editor in advance. I was told the stories were accepted, and one would appear in August. So far, no sign of my story, and when I tried to follow-up with e-mails and phone calls, my messages weren’t answered. What more can I...

If I Write in Multiple Genres, Do I Need Multiple Agents?

Q: I’m in the process of authoring books in four different genres. Do I need to enlist four agents?—N. Schad A: You’re writing four books at once? I can’t handle writing two stories at the same time, let alone four, so I’m impressed. But when it’s time to find an agent, you may want...

Live From LA: Questions from the Writer's Conference

Yesterday was the annual BEA/Writer’s Digest Books Writer’s Conference, and I was fortunate to be a panelist on the popular Ask the Editors session. The organizer, GLA editor Chuck Sambuchino, told me it was for my in-depth knowledge of the submission and editing processes and my familiarity with inexpensive ways to self-market work, but...

Why Do Authors Use Pseudonyms?

Q: Why do authors use pseudonyms?—Anonymous A: Authors write under pseudonyms, or pen names, for a variety of reasons. Established authors will do it to cross genres and keep from aggravating their fan bases. Wouldn’t you be a bit ticked off if you bought Stephen King’s next book expecting blood, guts and hair-raising intensity,...

What is a Literary Executor?

Q: I was recently approached by one of my relatives (my father’s cousin), who asked if I would be her literary executor. I don’t really know what this means and thought you might be able to shed some light on the subject. Do you know what this might entail?—Anonymous A: Often people choose executors...

Will Newspapers Review Self-Published Books?

Q: The book critic at my local newspaper mentioned in an article that she doesn’t review self-published books. Is this common procedure? Are there any major dailies that do?—Joyann Dwire A: Some newspapers won’t review self-published books simply because they’re concerned about legal issues. Self-published books aren’t subjected to the rigorous editing process employed...