Found Money: My System for Selling More Article Reprints

Get extra paydays selling article reprintsBy Carol J. Alexander

You’ve interviewed your sources, done your research, and worked your tail off to create a stellar piece of work — for a one-time gig.

Don’t settle for that single paycheck when you can sell the same story again and again to the right markets. Roughly one-third of my freelance writing income comes from selling article reprints.

Here’s how I do it:

What you can re-sell

You can re-sell anything you write so long as you retain the rights to it.

When you sell first rights or one-time rights to an article, after the terms of the contract are fulfilled, you are free to sell the piece elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate contracts if they ask for more rights than you want to sell.

Where you can re-sell it

Generally reprints are sold to non-competing markets — different audiences, regions, or countries.

If you write “Supplements for the Menopause Years” for a woman’s magazine, a health magazine would have a different audience.

Chicago Parent and Houston Family cover different regions.

Chickens Magazine and Practical Poultry represent similar audiences in different countries.

Where to find markets

Generally publications with a smaller circulation, regional magazines, trade publications, and newspapers purchase reprint rights.

Haunt the bookstore, peruse the digital pubs found on Issuu.com, and scour the Writer’s Market for publications that buy reprints.

Read a magazine’s submission guidelines online or email the editor and ask if they purchase reprints and what they typically pay. Some publications have a set rate. Some will pay what you ask.

I have made anywhere from $15 to $50 on article reprints in regional markets. That might not sound lucrative, but I have an extensive list of publications that purchase reprints in one niche. If I sell one article 20 times for an average of $35, that’s $700.

If that article already appeared for first rights in a national magazine for $400-$500 or more, then I think pitching the reprint market is worth my time.

How to submit your work

I group potential markets by niche in my email address book.

When I have a reprint to submit, I write a snappy cover letter (email) describing the story, listing a few places my work has been published, and what I’d like to get for this story. I mention that if they are interested in the piece I will forward it as a Word document with an invoice. I then paste the text of the story after the email.

Keep your eyes peeled and continually add to your list of markets. The more publications you have to submit to, the more opportunity you have of re-selling your work.

Have you made money selling reprints? Tell us how — and how much — in the comments below.

Carol J. Alexander writes from Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Her work has appeared in over 30 national and regional magazines, several websites/blogs, and her local newspaper.

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36 comments on “Found Money: My System for Selling More Article Reprints
  1. I’m definitely kicking into action with this one. Thanks so much for sharing this eye opener. I’m deeply grateful.

  2. Corrected my email address, will be using from now on, until later notice. Thank you Carol for every writing suggestion posted. I find everything helpful.
    Darlene Strand recently posted…5 Quick Ways Busy Freelancers Can Keep MarketingMy Profile

  3. Christina Katz says:

    Hi Carol and Carol!
    I have been training writers like Carol how to deepen and expand regular gigs in regional markets for many years and I have written two books that discuss how to do it. One of these books goes into quite a bit of detail on the topic and the other discusses how to offer reprints as part of your suite of services. There is something of an art to submitting reprints. Even though it may not bring in as much money as pitching new articles, submitting reprints is one of the most gratifying and consistent gigs a writer can angle for in the gig economy. It may not suit every writer, especially hard-core generalists, but for the types of writers I work with who establish and build distinct niches, which bring them repeat sales year after year, selling reprints makes perfect sense.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Christina. You’re right, a 500-word blog post cannot possibly give all the how-to’s of marketing reprints. Hopefully someone here is inspired enough to dig deeper into the topic.

  4. Just wondering… What system do you use for invoicing?
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…True Story: How I Nearly Lost My Leg and How the VAC Saved ItMy Profile

    • Nothing expensive, Lorraine. I made a template on Word, and just plug in the info each time. I came up with my own numbering system, too, in case the publication ever needs an invoice number.

      • Carol Tice says:

        Ha! I tend to track submissions in word docs as well. I hate Excel and everything like it.

        I use Freshbooks for invoicing, and dates for POs — like 013114 would be today’s invoice date for me. I find that useful for tracking things.

        • Great tips – thanks, ladies. I have been using my own creation of a template in Word, too, for my monthly ‘bill’ for my main client. I will have to develop a more sophisticated system, though, and use Carol’s numbering system. I like the idea of using dates as invoice numbers, and have heard of Freshbooks before, so I’ll look into that.

          Your info is much appreciated!
          Lorraine Reguly recently posted…True Story: How I Nearly Lost My Leg and How the VAC Saved ItMy Profile

  5. Holly Bowne says:

    Great post! I’ve had some success re-selling my articles to regional parenting magazines.

    And just like Marcie, a big “thank you” to you Carol, for mentioning Issuu. I was completely unaware of it. What an awesome resource!
    Holly Bowne recently posted…Rejection of the MonthMy Profile

  6. Karen Lange says:

    Excellent advice, Carol J.! I have done this on a small scale but need to get more proactive about it. Thanks for the nudge and inspiration. Thanks, Carol T., for hosting!
    Karen Lange recently posted…Visiting a FriendMy Profile

  7. Pinar Tarhan says:

    Hi Carol,

    Great article. I tend to neglect the reprinting potential. So far I only pitched and resold only one:) I’ve been wondering, though, is it really possible to resell the same piece for more than once?
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…How to Save an Hour Every Day by Michael Heppell: ReviewMy Profile

  8. Penelope says:

    This is a perfect example of “Do the work once–Profit over and again! I will tuck this into my back pocket as I expand myself into the article writing freelance market.

    This is also a main reason why I love self-publishing and creating Kindle books for sale on Amazon. Once done, they are my biggest bookseller and promoter.

    Thanks for the great ideas, Carol!
    Penelope recently posted…A Secret Site Chock-Full of Hungry Readers Begging to be Fed!My Profile

    • That’s right, Penelope. And when I’ve had times when I just couldn’t face anything new, like after my mom died, I just mined past work for re-selling/re-slanting opportunities.

  9. Kconan says:

    Seems like there would be big potential in international markets for reselling.

    • I have to admit, Kconan, that I have not attempted to tap that income stream. Perhaps Carol Tice can address that in a future post, if it’s not been covered already.

      • Carol Tice says:

        It would have to be a guest post, as I really don’t do a lot of reselling — that’s why I loved your guest post on it! I tend to get bored and want to move on to write new topics, but I loved these tips for those who’d prefer to resell. 😉

  10. Marcie says:

    Thanks for the tip about Issu, Carol. Adding this to my resource list ASAP. Thanks much.
    Marcie recently posted…Check Out My Interview on The B ResourceMy Profile

  11. Allen Taylor says:

    Awesome article and great tips.

    Related, you can rewrite an article from the same research with a slightly different angle and sell it as an original article to a different market. It’s a little extra work, but if you do enough research on a particular topic to warrant several articles, then you can get more mileage from time spent on the research.
    Allen Taylor recently posted…Top Secrets Of Successful Self-Published AuthorsMy Profile

    • Exactly, Allen. Sometimes you get more from your sources than you can use in one article, as well. Knowing how to sort it all out, possibly into multiple articles, is a great skill to develop.

  12. Tom Crawford says:

    Carol, this reminds of me of something similar that can be done with blog posts or online articles… Some of the work I’ve done for clients includes editing, and packaging their older content into ebooks or printable books.

    Simply suggesting this to blog owners, and then pitching your services, is one very easy way to be hired (as most blog owners have never considered this option).
    Tom Crawford recently posted…5 Distractions That Kill Your Freelance Blogging IncomeMy Profile

  13. Richard says:

    I’ve actually had very little success with reprints thus far, but I have had luck with individual publications printing what others turned down. I’ve not actively looked for reprint buyers though, so I’ll for sure start doing that.
    Richard recently posted…Blog has moved to main siteMy Profile

    • I would suggest, Richard, that you pick a niche. Let’s say you write about technology. Go to Issuu and put technology into the search bar and read the magazines that come up. Check out their websites for guidelines or email the editors and ask. You can also spin technology to other genre. Women’s magazines print stories on how to buy cell phones, parenting mags on how to protect our kids from cyber predators, senior magazines on how to get on Facebook.

  14. John Soares says:

    Carol, in the 1990s I wrote three hiking guidebooks on northern California. My publisher gave me permission to sell the individual hikes to print markets, and that’s what I did.

    For several years I had a monthly hiking column in a half-dozen newspapers that paid from $25 to $50 each. Each column was essentially a reprint of one individual hike from my book (along with a bio that included book titles).
    John Soares recently posted…Beat Writer’s Block and Procrastination With My Free Kindle EbookMy Profile

  15. Daryl says:

    Sounds like an excellent idea!

    Personally even just “spinning” a topic to cover the same overarching issues but in a different light or angle is a great way to develop low effort new material.
    Daryl recently posted…What Nobody Tells You About Writing a Successful Guest Post PitchMy Profile

    • Right, Daryl. One story on the health benefits of eating berries could spin into an unlimited number of pieces on the health benefits of _____. If health benefits are your thing, you could write something on everything that goes into your mouth. What a treasure trove of ideas you have there.

  16. Hi Carol (J)

    One big thing I’ve learned since becoming a freelance is that there’s untapped potential in everything you do.

    Even what I’m doing now, i.e. writing a comment, has some kind of residual value. For instance, I could expand upon what I’ve just said here and turn into a whole new blog post tomorrow.

    And, yep, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for new markets – just as you say.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…3 dangerously destructive writing habits every copywriter should avoidMy Profile

    • Exactly Kevin. One thing I did when I first started out and had trouble generating ideas was put a poster by my desk. It read: “What did I do today? Write about it.” That one trick led to articles on virtually everything from using a wringer washer to picking wild herbs.