Magazine article The Quill

Operate Smarter: Resell Your Work

Magazine article The Quill

Operate Smarter: Resell Your Work

Article excerpt

The phrase "work smarter, not harder" is a cliché. But never is it more true than in the world of freelance writing.

With a limited number of hours in a week, the need to be self-motivated and the financial necessity to reach as many high-paying markets as possible, freelance writers have to make the most of their time, their productivity and their marketing.

One of the best ways to work smarter is by reselling work that may have a longer shelf life than one publication. Word of caution: Be clear on the rights you own for a story before considering reselling the work. If you signed over all rights, you also gave away the privilege of reselling the work.

Many publications buy First Rights for a specified period of time. After that you are free to resell the work elsewhere. Think about what makes sense when reselling your work. A smaller publication may be interested in the local take of a national story. With a few more phone calls and little tweaking, you can resell the article with a local bent.

Another option is to submit articles to, which markets "previously published articles to newspaper, magazines and Web sites throughout the world," according to the site.

David Wallis, CEO and founder of, says he started the electronic marketplace because he was pissed off at the treatment freelancers often receive at the hands of editors. Pay rates for national publications continue to hover at $1 to $2 per word even as contracts are rewritten to use the work in more ways.

According to a 2001 story in Online Journalism Review, Wallis says: "One of the reasons I started Featurewell was that I'd heard writers being asked by editors, 'What are you going to do with these rights, anyway?' With Featurewell, we've edited that excuse from the lexicon of independent journalism."

Today, Featurewell syndicates features and columns on a variety of topics, including business, politics, culture, health, food, travel, science and technology.

Editors purchase the rights to publish articles and photos by the world's finest journalists, including Pulitzer Prize winners, columnists and even some celebrity authors, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Gen. Wesley Clark

Editors peruse the articles online by topic and are able to see if there are any geographic restrictions to the article based on previous publication. In turn, freelancers get paid 60 percent of the fee paid by the publication to Featurewell to use that work.

"It's not much but can make small changes in people's lives," explains Wallis from his New York office. "I write a lot of small checks for $100 or $200, and I'll get notes back from freelancers saying, 'This goes to my health insurance,' or 'My wife and I went out to dinner.' And that's great."

Featurewell has grown every year since it began in 2000 and now has contributions from more than 1,000 journalists with articles in TV Guide, Mother Jones, Reason and New York Observer, and in publications in about 40 countries. …

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