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Regionalism: Reprints Are Good Things
by Deborah Clark

Reprints are a freelancer's life blood. Every article has the potential to be reprinted. This is especially true of humor, opinion and parenting articles. The reasons are simple. There are many small circulation publications that focus on a specific geographic area. These topics have universal appeal.

The pay these publishers offer is fairly low but they are open to reprint articles in addition to submissions of original material. Of the above mentioned, the more difficult to place is humor followed by opinion with parenting being the most open to writers. Publishers are looking for good writing and strong focus. Humor and opinion writing are much more subjective and open to interpretation. Parenting writing can incorporate both these elements and find a niche with a broad spectrum of publications because it is about being a parent.

The Parenting Publications of America organization offers memberships to these small markets. In return, it publishes the database, primarily for advertising, that can be purchased by interested parties, like advertisers and writers. Parenting publications are not the only market to have its own professional/marketing organization. Most regional areas, whether states, provinces or parishes, have professionally run organizations for the workers within the area. Teachers, nurses, construction workers and truck drivers have publication geared directly toward them. Tapping into these markets can generate substantial reprint income.

The resources these publications offer are well worth the initial investment. The publication lists everything writers need to know about the markets they want to access. The listings include the areas the markets service, the names of the publishers and editors in addition to the addresses, telephone numbers, email and website information, if available. Serious writers can recoup their outlay in very short order. Even the casual writer can earn back the price of the database with three or four reprint sales.

Tapping into the market's online presence is a good way to find out about the publication's voice and focus. Most PPA members belong to the Disney.com network. Associations usually have a website whether their members do or not. For example, surf to the Disney.com home page and click on a regional area or specific publication. Here, writers can see a current copy of the publication's cover and view selected stories. They can also double-check the editor's name and current status. Writer's Guidelines are often available at the site as well. A word to the wise, not all editors accept e-queries just because they have email addresses. Be certain to check the guidelines.

Debbie Farmer, a parenting writer from California, has been actively marketing her work for almost a year. Her focus and determination is beginning to pay off. Her family humor column, Family Daze, is being accepted in a number of publications. Her parenting articles are being reprinted in many regional publications - some for the third and fourth time. The secret to her success is persistence and regular mailings of her works that are available for reprint publication.

Maintaining positive relations with editors is also important. Professionalism is the key. Remember to keep articles from being reprinted in overlapping areas. Apprise editors of reprints that are being withdrawn from consideration due to a sale to another publication in the same area. The editors will respect your ethics, even if they lose an opportunity to publish your work.

How does a writer offer work for resale? It is quite easy. There are only five steps to follow.

1.) Create a catalogue of a body of work that is available for reprint. Be sure to include a word count, a brief description of the topic, and the publication(s) that previously published the piece.

2.) Find a target market. Be sure to have accurate editorial information.

3.) Prepare an informational package. Be sure to include a cover letter stating the rights offered and a copy of the catalogue and perhaps a sample.

4.) Follow up the package with a call, letter or email. Be sure to ask if the editor has time to talk for a moment (if calling) before you state that you are just wanting to verify the receipt of your package, or (if using email) that you are following up on a submission.

5.) Keep submitting. Be sure to keep accurate records of who has received the package; who has responded, and any comments.

By keeping track of the packaged submissions, the areas and the editors' responses, a freelancer can better target the types of articles and essays that continue to be chosen, the areas of highest response and editors that are currently buying reprints. Writers can use this information to generate more original work with the themes that will best suit reprint markets.

The most tangible benefit of selling reprints to regional markets is the opportunity get a foot into a door that may not otherwise open. Reprints' sales show an editor that other publications have found the writer's work acceptable. An editor is more open to queries they normally wouldn't consider from a writer previously unpublished by them.

Selling reprints can lead to increased sales of new work to more markets, which leads to more available reprints for new markets. A cycle any writer can live with.

© Copyright 1998, Deborah Clark

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