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How Much Do Reprints Pay? Ask Anne


Hello Anne,

First of all, thank you so much for this wonderful resource you provide!

I have learned quite a bit, and it is always an enjoyable read.

My question concerns reprints. I have written several articles that were published in a small town paper. While most of them would require a rewrite to make them saleable now, there are a few evergreen articles that would do pretty much as is, and I wondered how the fact they have been printed (albeit in a small town paper) impacts the price point?

As you can imagine, the original amount paid for their use was quite low, and I recall reading somewhere that one-half the original fee was a guideline, but I feel this may be an exception to that, so I decided to ask the only guru I know. I hope you don’t mind.

Thank you,


Hi TS,

Love the compliments, although I doubt that guru really fits – but I’ll take it for the moment.

It’s a great idea to both recast article you can rewrite and to sell reprints of evergreen articles you wrote for a small paper.

How much you can get paid for a reprint is totally dependent on what the publication you want to sell it to is willing to pay. It’s not unusual for to be paid more for a reprint than for the original article. This is especially true when you’re talking about the original being published in a small newspaper.

First, check the rights you actually sold to the newspaper. Chances are it was either first serial rights or all rights. If its the former you can sell second rights with no problem. If it was all rights you’ll have to get permission from the newspaper – usually they are happy to give you the rights back. It’s best to get this in writing, and a quick agreement by email is just fine.

If the newspaper isn’t willing to give you the rights back or if it’s has disappeared, you’ll have to rewrite them in order to use the idea and material. Exactly what a substantial rewrite actually is no one knows – there’s no official definition in the U.S. Play fair – make it a truly new article even if you’re using the same material.

Assuming you have the rights, start by reading the market listings of the publications you’re aiming at. Many of them spell out what they pay and any other rules they have about reprints. Not all magazines or blogs or websites will pay for or even use reprints. But enough will to make it worth making an offer.

When you submit to another publication make sure they know it’s been published before and in what – the name of the paper in this instance. Let them also know the circulation if you know or can find it easily and  what area the newspaper serves or served. You want to be totally transparent about it all.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Send me an email with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll work to get it answered here.


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Loving Jazz Photography

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