By Wendy Burt-Thomas
For the most part, larger consumer magazines want to purchase AT LEAST First North American Serial Rights (meaning they’re the first to print it in North America) or First World Rights (first to print it in the world). In addition, many large print publications now have their own online version that uses many if not all of the same articles. In other words, a print publication like Men’s Health that wants to buy your article on “Why Your Heart Loves Dark Chocolate” also wants to run the article on its website. Men’s Health is paying you $1/word because they want ALL rights: First World Rights, electronic rights, reprint rights and the rights to OWN your article.
Smaller-circulation magazines and newspapers (such as local, regional and trade), however, may not have online versions of their publications. This means that you’re likely only being asked for one-time or regionally exclusive rights (i.e.,”don’t sell to any other publications in Boston”). So you could sell the same article (at say, $100 each) to a 55+ newspaper in Houston, New York City, Boca Raton and Atlanta while still retaining ownership of the article.
Selling to online publications and websites is fine; just make sure the money is worth it. Once your piece is on the Web, it may be more difficult to resell.