Many new or aspiring freelancers have no idea what terms like rights, kill fees, clips, lead time and reprints mean.
Most freelancers learn about these terms while on the job. This article explains a few concepts that will help new or aspiring freelancers as they get started.
Reprints are pieces, articles or essays that have been published. If the copyright belongs to you and you want to sell the same piece to another publication, it will be referred to as a reprint. Most publications don't pay much for reprints and some don't even accept them. However, for freelancers, reprints are sometimes more profitable than original articles.
Previously, magazines demanded all rights to articles. However, this trend no longer exists in many countries. There are different kinds of rights.
All Rights – This means that the article has not been published before, and cannot be reused after it is published in that particular publication. As a freelancer, don't give up all rights for a paltry sum of money. If you sell all rights, make sure you are paid what you deserve.
First Serial Rights – These are usually linked to a country, such as First British Serial Rights or First South American Serial Rights. Though the article should not have been published in the country before, but the writer is free to submit in other countries after publication.
Electronic Rights – These are rights related to online publication. Usually, they have a specific time period. In addition, electronic rights are normally non-exclusive, meaning that the article can be sold elsewhere as it continues appearing on the publication's website.
CD-ROM Rights – This gives the publication freedom to use your works on a Compact Disk.
First-time Rights – This means that your article must not have appeared anywhere else worldwide. However, you retain the right to sell your work in other places after publication
One-time Rights – Even though your work could have appeared elsewhere, one-time rights allow publications to use your work once. After publication, you are still free to sell it elsewhere.
Payment on Publication vs. Payment on Acceptance
Many publications pay their writers upon publication, which is when the article appears in print. The period between acceptance and publication could be months, so it is always wise to try getting paid on acceptance.
When you send a query, editors will want to know if you can really. Most likely, they will ask to see your writing samples. Published samples are referred to as clips. If you don't have published samples, you can write one or two articles related to the subject, and send them together with your query.
Usually, publications ask writers to submit their work long in advance to avoid last minute goofs. This period is normally referred to as lead time. Most publications, especially magazines, have lead times of three to six months.
Expenditures incurred during an assignment, such as lunch and travel, are usually covered by the publication. Make sure this is clarified before you begin on the assignment
Once in a while, editors "kill" articles that have been assigned. To compensate the writer for the hours put in and their research, magazines normally have a 20-50% kill fee. This means if your query is accepted but your article is not published, you will receive a kill fee for your work.