Friday, 1 August 2008

Please learn from my mistakes - contracts

Nowadays I use the Society of Authors to check all my contracts - and a grand job they do too. But when I started out writing I was so, so, so happy when anyone accepted anything I didn't pay much attention to contracts. And (hangs head) I'm not sure I even kept them all. But then back then it was more informal with many British smaller magazines - we were all too busy running from dinosaurs to get hung up on paperwork.

So last night and this morning I have spent several hours trying to track down if I have the rights to a story published in 1995. I'm pretty sure I have, but as I now have an offer for further publication I need to be sure. (Generally with a short story you offer first British serial rights, so that after initial publication rights revert to the author.)

The magazine I was published in now no longer publishes fiction, but I believe has only ever asked for first British serial rights. I've finally tracked down the current editor and emailed him.

And if you're wondering why I resubmitted a story without being sure about ownership - the confession gets worse. I came across the story, liked it, thought it needed a bit of editing and had entirely forgotten it had ever been published. 

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