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Re-Purpose Your Inventory
by Susan Sundwall

I’m not talking about that department store job you had in your first year of college where you filled out inventory forms until you were ready to scream. No, I’m referring to the pieces of writing you have available for re-sale as well as those hang around pieces you love but haven’t sold. I think we’ve all done this; gone skimming through our submissions spreadsheet and noticed some great unsold pieces or see one that did sell, but to a small market but, with a little nudge, could be ready for another shop around. That skimming is a good habit to get into because more markets are turning up all the time for those bits of work.


Years ago I wrote several pieces for an online children’s magazine. This year, 2008, is the last year that magazine will be around. Each of those pieces had an original purpose and one of my goals for 2009 is to re-purpose some of them. They include crafts, short poems and non-fiction educational articles. To give you an example, I may add the poems to a children’s chapbook I’m contemplating or I’ll take the article about roads and add some discussion questions for a Learning Through History article. I’ll make each piece current and give a day or two over to finding new markets for them. In case you’re wondering, I only do this for writing for which I’ve retained rights. They’re mine to revise and re-sell. I’ve done this with many short stories and essays and have recently sold an essay, which originally appeared in a regional publication, to an anthology. Some of your good work may find a second and even third round of life with minimum effort.

Some Ideas

Re-purposing is somewhat different from selling a reprint. Reprints are pretty much a go as they are, but realizing another purpose for your work takes you down new and exciting paths. Try one of those paths for something that hasn’t sold yet or an older piece that needs a facelift. I wrote a contemporary poem that I’d hoped to sell to Blue Mountain Arts. They declined and the poem lingered until I read a call for submissions at Love Stories. I subbed it; the editor called it a fit and bought it. Maybe you have a poem that has failed at magazines, but would make an excellent greeting card. Check these out.

If you’ve written a funny family story, an inspirational article or something about an Aha! moment in your life and have sold it to your local newspaper, twist it a bit and try it next with an anthology.

Do you love to write about crafts? Update something you wrote a few years ago and find new life for it here:

Don’t give up, especially, on the work that hasn’t sold. True, not all of it is wonderful. I have a few pieces that stink like week old fish. But others are things that I love and have simply not found a home. One story, about a Christmas gift I received when I was eleven, won honorable mention in a contest last year and is currently awaiting judgment at four different venues. I went from re-purpose to multi-purpose with that one! And I’ll sell to the highest bidder. But that’s a whole different article. For now, I think I’ll go back and peruse my spreadsheet one more time, looking for nuggets to re-purpose.

© Copyright 2008, Susan Sundwall

Susan is a freelance writer, sometime poet and soon to be blogger. Read her children’s story, "Mary’s Sparrow."

Other articles by Susan Sundwall :

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