13. Getting Published: Trial by Fire
Page 7 of 9 | Your Work in Print | Manuscript Preparation | Will They Steal My Work? | Learning the Market | Submission |
| Taking Rejection | Taking Acceptance | Electronic Publication | Books & Agents |
You think you need lessons in how to take acceptance? You have your war-whoop and victory dance all ready? Good—waving a check in the air is lots of fun—but there are still some things you need to know.
Most reputable publishers will send you a contract for the story along with an acceptance letter. The check might or might not be included; it might await publication, or at least your signing of the contract. And you have to know what to make of that contract.
For a more detailed discussion of contracts, do consult sources such as those listed in the Resources section. But let's go over a few of the basics:
- Never sign away "all rights" to your work. Never. (Well, not unless they offer you so much money that you don't care if you ever have control over it or see another penny from it again. But really, how likely is that?) Reputable publications do not ask for "all rights."
- Chances are, if you sell to a magazine, they'll want to license something like "first North American serial rights," or possibly "first world serial rights." That simply means the right to be the first to publish your story in a magazine in North America (or in the world). That's what you want to sell - preferably, the more restricted clause. But if the magazine really does have foreign editions, then they probably have a legitimate reason for seeking world serial rights. Usually, they should pay you more for that.
- They should either promise to copyright the story in your name, or include it in their own copyright notice but assign the rights back to you after publication. (The first way is preferable.)
- You should have the right to review and approve any significant editing changes, other than minor copy editing to correct spelling, punctuation, typographical errors, and so on.
- There should be a time limit on their exclusive right to the story. (Usually one to two years.) If they haven't published it by the end of that time, the rights should revert to you.
By all means, learn more about contracts before you sign one. A good place to start is the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) Web site.