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.