Monday, 6 June 2011

Selling Overseas

I've finally had a few minutes to sit down and catch up with the latest (July) issue of Writers' Forum, which contains an excellent article by Australian women's mag writer, Glynis Scrivens. She explains how, starting with a decent story and with the help of this blog and a bit of hard work, you might manage to sell the same basic story several times in different countries.

So how does this work?

When you sell a story in the UK, you are (usually) selling First British Serial Rights. That means you are guaranteeing that this is the first time the story has been published in Britain. If you sell to an Australian magazine, you're selling First Australian rights. If you sell to a US magazine, it's First North American rights, etc. So the same story can be sold many times, without any clash of rights. Having said that, always specify in your covering letter if your story has already been published anywhere in the world, and take care with Woman's Weekly which is on sale in Australia as well as in the UK.

Glynis makes the very good point that you must tailor your story depending on the market you're submitting to. (Of course, you always do that anyway, don't you? You wouldn't dream of submitting the same story to People's Friend and Take A Break without changing it, would you?) Things to bear in mind when sending a story overseas is to ensure it's not too English. Don't go referring to British soap operas and the UK Prime Minister. A quick Google search will find you suitable alternatives depending on the chosen market. And use tourist websites to find a good setting for your story. Don't forget, stories set in exotic holiday destinations eg Egypt or the Caribbean could sell to any country.

This blog (which Glynis mentions in her article several times - cheers!) has details of a few overseas markets which take stories from UK writers. But you may know of more, or you may be able to find more using a bit of detective work. Some Scandinavian magazines take stories written in English and will translate them.

I've sold to Australian That's Life but not to any other overseas markets, though I must admit there are some I've never submitted to. But if you've written a good story, make it work for you by selling and reselling. Glynis knows a writer who sold the same story 8 times (including anthologies). Now there's a target to aim for!

What are your experiences of selling abroad? Does anyone know of more markets they are willing to share? Any more tips for reselling stories? And if anyone wants to swap magazines for market research purposes, feel free to get in contact via this post.


Bluestocking Mum said...

I wish I could have sold abroad. But then I'd have to submit to sell so it's my own fault ;)

Great Writers Forum this edition. I subscribe too.

Sally Zigmond said...

I once sold a comic mountain climbing story to a German mountaineering mag. Or rather they bought it from me. It had been published in a UK mountaineering mag first and that's where they read it. So I got paid twice (more for the German mag than the UK one and they translated it!) But I didn't have to do anything, apart from bank the cheque! It also got picked up by a niche American mag but I agreed not to be paid for that. Can't think why. I was much younger then.

Sky Blue said...

The first story I ever sold went on to sell in Australia and South Africa - both for much more money than My Weekly paid for it.
I thought that was what would happen every time - NO!
I also sent the same story to American magazines but no luck there.
I have sent other stories overseas over the years but nothing else has been accepted.
Like Bluestocking Mum, I'll need to get back to submitting to sell anywhere!

Elaine Everest said...

Reading Glynis's feature reminded me that there was a market for 700 word stories. I had an idea for a short twist in the tale so wrote the rough draft Friday evening and edited Saturday morning. I emailed it over to THFF the same morning and popped it into the psot to TABFF in time to catch the midday post.
Eight days later an email came from Australia, they had bought the story ofr 400 AUD. No news from TABFF yet but it's ealy days and in the meantime I'm exanding the story for other markets.
Thank you Glynis!

Geraldine Ryan said...

Good for you, Elaine!

I have sold twice to Australian Women's Weekly, which, by the way, is monthly and has no connection with our own WW. However, they stopped taking fiction a couple of years ago.

I've also sold to Australian that's life but not for ages. My stories seem to sink into a big hole. Ditto, to Scandinavia, where I initially sold a quite a few. My stories always come back with a compliment but the rider that they are "too English".

Anonymous said...

Well done to Elaine on selling to TLFF! But as regards hoping to sell it onto TABFF... I thought they only bought stories that had not previously been published...

womagwriter said...

Hi Anon
TABFF buy First British Serial Rights so will buy stories not previously published in the UK.

They will, and do buy stories previously published in Australia or elsewhere.

Rena George said...

Well done, Elaine, that's a really inspiring tale. The only overseas mag I've had success with is is the Australian Woman's Day (which, sadly, recently stopped publishing fiction) But I did re-sell the same story here to Weekly News.
Glynis's excellent WF article comes at a time when so many UK Fiction markets are disappearing and most of us casting around for new outlets for our work. Maybe some of our Womag friends overseas could contribute a few ideas to this blog? I'm sure any information about fiction publishing mags will be gratefully received.
PS: Thanks for email, Kath. Just got it today.

Diane Fordham said...

I've only had my short stories published in Australis. I do submit to Fiction Feast and Womans Weekly in the UK - no luck yet, but I will keep on trying. Wish they would accept via email like Australia's Fast Fiction does - gets rather expensive otherwise! Happy writing and good luck to you all! :-) (enjoyed the post, thank you)

Anonymous said...

The snail mail thing is a pain from Australia, isn't it, Diane? (Saw your name in TLFF yesterday, by the way.)

My experience is the reverse. I've sold to some UK mags, and to You in South Africa, but I've only sold one story to TLFF. I'll keep trying.

I wish Woman's World, USA, would take email submissions too.


Elaine Everest said...

Thank you for the congrats!
I always send my stories to You SA but it's like pitching into the void. Cecilia ignores me - and that is after selling quite well to her in the past.
I've checkled what she bought in the past to make sure I've not wandered off target but still nothing, not even a 'go away and stop bothering me!'

Anonymous said...

Hi - just read the comment from Elaine Everest and wondered if any Womag writers have had any response from You South Africa? Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Kath. I've had several acceptances from You and have found Cecilia an absolute pleasure to deal with.


Anonymous said...

Well done on the acceptances, Claire.
I'm another who finds 'You' a black hole. Do you actually get acknowledgements and/or rejections for your stories, or does Cecilia only contact you if she is accepting? And how long does that usually take?
I also have two different email addresses - one from the guidelines and a different one from the website. Do you know which is the correct one to use or doesn't it matter?
Thanks for the help.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I've had acknowledgements, but I haven't actually had any rejections, so I don't know what the standard practice is there. I do write my stories specifically for You, rather than send previously published works. I don't know whether that makes a difference, but I thought it might be worth mentioning.

I don't think it matters which email address you use, and timing varies, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, but is not very long in comparision with some other mags.

I have found working with You a very professional and enjoyable experience.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, Claire.

It does seem strange the contrasting experiences writers have with them. I have sent both new and previously published stories and it has made no difference.

Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Geraldine Ryan (or anyone else who might know) Pleeeese would you share your scandinavian contacts with us - with guidelines if at all possible? With the shrinking market I think we would all be glad of another outlet.
thanks in advance

Anonymous said...


Although we all appreciate it when other writers share their contacts, I don't think we can expect all our markets to come to us that way.
It wouldn't happen in any other business and, for some writers at least, that is what this is.

Have you tried doing your own research, googling scandinavian mags etc., looking at their websites, sending off enquiries to whatever contact addresses you can find? That sort of thing is part of the work related to being a successful writer, I'm afraid.

Geraldine Ryan said...

I'm a bit unhappy about sharing editors' email addresses on a public forum, actually. Especially if your query is anonymous. I wouldn't want editors being bombarded by unsolicited manuscripts from writers with no previous track record - no offence intended, but it's not the way for me to maintain my reputation with editors who have previously been very helpful to me.

I will tell you that the magazines I have previously been accepted by are Hjemmet (The Home) and Allas (Everyone/All)

Anonymous said...

Geraldine, thank you very much for sharing the names of the magazines - I should have been clearer in my request, that is what I was seeking, rather than the e-mail address of the editors. I wouldn't put up any private e-mail addresses, either. I can now investigate and seek guidelines.
Anon, thank you for your kind advice - i don't know that I would call myself a sucessful writer, but writing is a large and necessary part of my income - I do have a part time job as well. Perhaps I am a little naiive - I will happily share any of my markets as I encounter them, but apart from a few specialised medical mags, I haven't anything else to share at the moment.
I don't know if this is the same as sharing, but I have actually sent work to a couple of outlets that do not take unsolicited submissions, and have been sucessful - i'll let readers decide if that is wise!