Today's guest, Della Galton, is probably known to all of you as a very successful womag writer.
Selling All Rights
Long ago when I joined a creative writing class – which was what got me started as a writer – I was told by the tutor never to sell All Rights to my work.
All Rights meant that you no longer owned your work. You literally handed it over lock stock and barrel to a new owner, who could if they wished make a film script from it, put their name on it, sell it on to someone else, enter it in a competition, all without asking your permission, or, of course, paying you any extra fee.
For the above reasons selling All Rights was a financially unsound thing to do, especially in the days when you could sell the rights more than once. However it could possibly be considered as an option if the buyer paid handsomely. Not many writers did it though. Not ones who knew what they were selling anyway.
There was another very good reason not to do it. After all, if a few writers were to start selling All Rights to their work then what was to stop all markets demanding that all writers did it?
If this happened then sooner or later writers would be redundant. Why would a market pay for new work when they could simply reprint old work without payment?
Have things changed? Is it OK to sell All Rights now? Obviously it’s up to the individual writer what they do with their work, just as it always has been. But everything I’ve said above still applies.
I often hear writers say that it’s OK for well paid bestselling authors but that the poorer ones among us have no choice.
We ALL have a choice. Although not necessarily a very palatable one.
Everyone has bills. Lots of us – myself included – are self supporting with no partner to help and no other income but writing related earnings. When Woman’s Weekly decided to buy All Rights I made my choice not to sell them any more work. This meant I took on a cleaning job, to supplement my writing income. Not a choice I particularly relished. But a choice none the less.
So now Take a Break has followed suit and I know some writers will be saying, Oh no, but I have no choice. If I don’t sell All Rights I won’t be able to pay my mortgage/rent/bills.
There is actually still a choice.
I have now added an invoicing job to my cleaning job and my writing job. I think they call it portfolio working. This enables me to continue working for markets that don’t take All Rights for fiction. I’m very happy about that.
To end on a very positive note, I’ve been approached twice recently by publishers asking if I still owned the rights to my short stories. I now have an anthology of short stories aimed at teaching people English coming out in Russian and English. I can’t wait to see what my work looks like in Russian.
I was also approached and given a very good fee for a story to be reproduced as part of an educational course used by Oxford University Press. Neither of these things would have happened if I’d sold the rights to what is MY work. Please think about it before you sell the rights to what is YOURS.
If you enjoy Della's writing, you might like to take a look at her latest novel, Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff Hill. I've not read that one yet, but I've read and enjoyed several of her other books. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.