Q & A: Posting Stories on Websites

Here's a question that came in last night from Cliff Volpe, a RTW traveler that I know through BootsnAll.com

Q. I’m currently on my trip around the world, and I am writing stories to put on my website (www.cliffvolpe.com). However, if I post stories (and photos) on my website, does it generally prohibit me from then selling those stories and photos to a magazine for publication at a later date? In other words, do I need to hold out for six months before I hear back from a magazine (and then wait another 6 months if they want to publish it), before I can put the story on my website? What comes first, the chicken or the egg, the magazine or my web site?

A. Hi Cliff,
Thanks for the update. I’m on the road for the Sand in My Bra tour and don’t have time to look at your story. But I do have time to warn you about what you post to your website.

Here’s the thing — most big magazines buy all rights. That’s why they pay $1-$2/word. That means that they are buying the first time publishing rights
and all rights afterwards. For specifics, you will need to consult the submission guidelines of each individual publication that you are submitting to.

If you put your story up on your web site, then you will not be able to sell that version of the story to a magazine that asks for FIRST or ALL RIGHTS. You will have to significantly rewrite it.




I do not post anything on non-paying sites or my own websites that I intend to sell. Or at least when I do, I understand that a major rewrite, and even angle change would be in order for that to happen.

It’s good to note that Travelers’ Tales and smaller magazines do not buy first rights. They buy reprint rights. They can’t ask for more because they are paying very little. But in this case, you can submit a previously web published story to them and be in the clear. Again, read submission guidelines carefully before you turn anything in.

I’m glad to hear that you are finally on the road. Have fun and keep writing!

All best,