Wednesday, February 09, 2022

More on excerpts

A follow up question to yesterday's post

Dear Shark:

What about e-zines? Magazines typically want exclusive first rights, but e-zines also may want to store and display novel extracts indefinitely. I've seen one e-zine ask for "non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable right and license to digitally archive and display the content," and that worries me. Will an agent or publisher (or both!) dislike that some of my writing is available on the web, free, forever and forever?
Even if it's okay to have a novel's excerpt (or a short story derived from that excerpt) published online, let's say you have the opportunity to get multiple excerpts published, even across different e-zines. Is it possible for too much of your novel to be out there, potentially available for free?

Dear Chum:
1. There is no such thing as first rights.

Last rites, yes, but not first rights.
You're missing the noun.

First WHAT rights?
First publication rights? Better, but still not clear.

What ezines (or any lit mag probably) wants is the right to publish your work

(a) in a particular format;

(b) in a particular territory; 

(c) for a particular amount of time.

For example;

The Felix Buttonweezer Bugle contracts with you the Writer to publish your Work 

(a) in electronic form,

(b)  throughout the world for 

(c) five years exclusively and non-exclusively thereafter.

2. Non sublicensable is a mares nest of conflicting things.
I'm not even sure what it means.

3. The question of having too much published is like theoretical physics. You can think about it, talk about it, throw theories around all you want, but most likely this is not something you will encounter in the real world. File this under Rodent Wheel.

But to your larger question, is any of this a problem?


The publisher you license your book to will: undertake to publish the Work (not just a piece of it) in print and ebook (and perhaps audio) form, in the territory (throughout the world, in North America; on Carkoon) for the term of the copyright.

Make sure you tell your agent that excerpts from your work have been published already (and have the contracts READY cause she'll need them).

The key to any kind of excerpt is that the publication can not be exclusive for a long period of time.

A year at MOST, but beware that pub dates for magazines can be far after acceptance.

None of this will hurt you, it's just stuff that needs to be sorted out. Your agent can do that. If she's been in the business longer than five minutes she's done it before.


Mares nest, no bull



C. Dan Castro said...

Great answers, Janet, thank you.

On the topic of rights in general, I've seen an anthology that seeks: "Rights asked for: worldwide, nonexclusive, English Language publication rights, for both print and electronic, for as long as the anthology remains in print."

I'm surprised they don't request exclusive rights for a period of time before it switches to nonexclusive. (This would also protect the writers. I wouldn't want my contribution also getting published elsewhere, because I wouldn't want to undercut the anthology's sales. [Particularly since it pays on a royalty-sharing basis.])

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am feeling so spoiled. So many posts in such a short time. And such great information. More reasons why I must grab up an agent. Soon.

Julie Weathers said...


I know. and my email doesn't notify me of posts anymore. It was a fluke that I saw this.

Thank you, Janet.

Craig F said...

C. Dan, I'm confused. Why would the lack of an exclusive period hurt an author?

In non-exclusive contracts the author could sell the rights to another, or others as long as it doesn't affect the first contract.

Anthology collectors seem to want to build up relatively unknown writers. That put a couple of big names in it, and let the reader compare their merits against someone they never heard of before. It has added a lot of names to my :To Be Read: file.

AJ Blythe said...

Julie, I believe Blogger made some changes last year that meant notification by email was affected. I use Feedly so I didn't follow all the discussions about it because it didn't affect me, but others here might be able to offer a solution.

This just keeps setting off flashing alarm lights and bells reminding me I really only want to do this with an agent.