KNOW WHAT RIGHTS YOU ARE SELLING
First Rights: Right to use a piece of writing for the first time. After it’s printed the rights automatically revert to you and you may offer reprint rights to other publications that accept reprints (see Reprint Rights below).
First Serial Rights: “Serial” refers to using a piece in a periodical, so First Serial Rights is first use in a periodical.
First North American Serial Rights: First use in a periodical in North America.
One Time Rights: Right to publish one time—not necessarily the first time. This typically refers to sales made to newspapers who have their own designated publication/distribution area, but in Christian publishing it also refers to denominational publications that distribute to their own denominational readership—which does not overlap with other denominations. In other words, you can sell one-time rights to the different denominations simultaneously.
All Rights: The publisher buys complete rights and the author forfeits all rights to any further use. The publisher owns the piece and may reprint it or sell to others at will without any further payment to the author. Selling all rights is usually only advisable if the payment is high enough, you want to add the publication to your list of published credits, or there is no other market for the piece. If you sell all rights, they revert to you after 35 years. All rights—sometimes called Exclusive Rights—cannot be sold unless the transfer is stated specifically on writing. The publisher must indicate in writing that they are buying all rights.
Work for Hire: Some types of writing that are closely controlled by the publisher, such as curriculum writing, are often sold on a work-for-hire basis. That means the publisher is hiring you to write the material and the final manuscript belongs to the publisher. Material sold on a work-for-hire basis does not revert to the author after 35 years.
Reprint rights: If you have previously sold first or one-time rights to a piece of writing and it has been published the first time, the rights then automatically revert to you and you are free to offer reprint rights to any publications that indicate they are open to reprints. Reprint rights are sometimes referred to as “Second Rights.”
Simultaneous Rights: Selling the right to publish a piece simultaneously to more than one publisher. Generally you reserve this right for sales to non-overlapping markets—such as the denominational markets described above (see One Time Rights). When selling Simultaneous Rights, be sure all parties involved know you are doing so. For example, if you have an articles for Christian teens on dealing with peer pressure—that would be of interest to teens in all denominations—you might offer the article simultaneously to the teen periodical for each denomination.
Non-exclusive Rights: If you don’t specify what rights you are selling, and the publisher doesn’t indicate what rights they are buying, you have likely sold non-exclusive rights. This gives them the right to publish the material originally and again in the future in the same periodical—but not in other periodicals put out by the same publisher.