Reprints for Creative Shorts: How and Where to Sell a Poem, Personal Essay or Short Story a Second Time

The reprint market isn’t just for nonfiction articles. If you're looking to sell a short story, personal essay or a poem that's already been published, there’s a good chance you can sell it again. Learn how.
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Image by Jimi Filipovski on Unsplash

by Windy Lynn Harris

The reprint market isn’t just for nonfiction articles. If you're looking to sell a short story, personal essay or a poem that's already been published, there’s a good chance you can sell it again. More great news: Those terrific pieces you published on your blog? They can find a new home in the reprint market, too! Any previously published creative short that you’ve retained the rights to can be published a second (or third!) time.

Here’s everything you need to know:

WHAT QUALIFIES AS “PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED”?

Any time you’ve used or sold the First Rights to a piece of writing, it is considered “published” and can be sold as a reprint. Here are the most common examples:

  1. Any piece that has been published in a magazine or newspaper (in print or online).
  2. Blog posts.
  3. Website material.
  4. Social network posts (any piece of personal writing you’ve shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc).

SECOND SERIAL RIGHTS

The first time you sell a short story or another piece of writing (or post it yourself online), you are granting First Rights. After that, you’re only be able to sell Second Rights for that piece of work (also called Reprint Rights).

When your story or essay is published in a magazine, the publishing rights typically return to you 180 days later (from the date of publishing, not the date of your contract). Read your contract carefully to make sure you know when your rights are back in your hands. When you post something on your blog or website, you retain your rights and are able to sell them at any time. For more information about the rights you sell, you can visit the Copyright office: https://www.copyright.gov.

WHAT IF I REWRITE A PIECE FROM MY BLOG. IS IT NEW AGAIN?

You’ll likely fluff up a blog post before submitting it to a magazine, but unless you’ve completely rewritten the idea with all new words, it will still be considered “published.” Good news: There are plenty of magazines looking for great writing that’s been published before! Sell it as a reprint!

[Transforming a Short Story Into a Novel]

REPRINT ETTIQUETTE

Magazines don’t want your great story or poem to be in two magazines at the same time. It’s best to leave a nice grace period between the day you get your rights back and the day you submit your work to a new magazine—typically one year. It’s different when you’re targeting a whole new reading audience, though. For example: If you’ve sold an essay to a regional magazine, you can submit it to a different region’s magazines as soon as your rights have been returned.

It’s also considered good manners to remove a piece from your blog or website before submitting it to magazines.

Double-check that potential magazines accept reprints before sending your work. The reprint market for short creative pieces is big, but it’s only a fraction of the overall magazines. Always tell potential editors that you are submitting a reprint in your cover letter. Include the place and date of original publication.

MAGAZINES ACQUIRING REPRINTS

Many magazines accept poems, essays, and short stories that have been published before. Here’s a list of ten to get you started:

WHERE TO FIND MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR REPRINTS

Visit these writing resources to find other magazines accepting reprints:

Take a day this month and review your reprint possibilities. Don’t forget those blog posts and anything you’ve shared on social media. Create a list of potential magazines for your work and get your writing back out the door!

Windy Lynn Harris is the author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published ( from Writer’s Digest Books). She’s a prolific writer, a trusted mentor, and a frequent speaker at literary events. Her long list of short stories and personal essays have been published in literary, trade, and women’s magazines across the U.S. and Canada in places like The Literary Review,The Sunlight Press, and Literary Mama, among many other journals. She is also a freelance developmental editor-for-hire specializing in short prose. Learn more about selling short creative pieces at www.windylynnharris.com.

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