Thursday, April 19, 2012

For Writers

Re-purposing Your Inventory

I’m not talking about that job at Walmart your first year of college where you filled out inventory forms until you were ready to scream. No, I’m referring to the pieces of writing you have available for re-sale as well as those hang around pieces you love but haven’t sold. I think we’ve all done this; gone skimming through our submissions spreadsheet and noticed some great unsold pieces or see one that did sell, but to a small market but, with a little nudge, could be ready for another shop around. That skimming is a good habit to get into because more markets are turning up all the time for those bits of work.

Years ago I wrote several pieces for an online children’s magazine. 2008 was the last year that magazine was around. Each of those pieces had an original purpose and one of my goals became to re-purpose some of them. They include crafts, short poems and non-fiction educational articles. I’ll make each piece current and give a day or two over to finding new markets for them. In case you’re wondering, I only do this for writing where I’ve retained rights. They’re mine to revise and re-sell. I’ve done this with many short stories and essays and have recently sold an essay, which originally appeared in a regional publication, to an anthology. Some of your good work may find a second and even third round of life with minimum effort.  

Re-purposing is somewhat different from selling a reprint. Reprints are pretty much a go as they are, but realizing another purpose for your work takes you down new and exciting paths. Try one of those paths for something that hasn’t sold yet or an older piece that needs a facelift. I wrote a contemporary poem that I’d hoped to sell to Blue Mountain Arts. They declined and the poem lingered until I read a call for submissions at New Love Stories. I subbed it; the editor called it a fit and bought it. Alas, that magazine has folded, but I have my poem back. Maybe you have a poem that has failed at magazines, but would make an excellent greeting card. Try here first

If you’ve written a funny family story, an inspirational one, or something about an Aha! moment in your life and have sold it to your local newspaper, twist it a bit and try it next with an anthology. Here’s your starting place

Don’t give up, especially, on the work that hasn’t sold. True, not all of it is wonderful. I have a few pieces that stink on ice. But others are things I love and simply haven’t found a home. One story, about a Christmas gift I received when I was eleven, hung around for a while but eventually won honorable mention in a Cynic Online contest and later sold to Good Old Days magazine. I love it when that happens. So why don’t you take a look at your spreadsheet one more time, looking for nuggets to re-purpose. You can thank me later.

Image: Free Digital Photos

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