20 July 2021

Over and Over and Over Again


In “Bad Contracts” three weeks ago, I wrote about selling all rights to several of my stories. Luckily, I’ve not sold all rights to all of my stories.

Retaining rights has allowed me to license reprints and other subsidiary rights—either by actively seeking them or by having editors contact me—and the extra money and extra publications have always been welcome.

Additionally, by retaining rights, I’ve been able to release the audiobook collection Even Roses Bleed (Books in Motion, 1995) and four short-story collections—Bad Girls (Wildside Press, 2000), Tequila Sunrise (Wildside Press, 2000), Canvas Bleeding (Wildside Press, 2002), and Yesterday in Blood and Bone (Wildside Press, 2005)—each of which contains one or more reprints.

So, what opportunities have I had?

MOST-OFTEN REPRINTED STORY

My most-oft reprinted short story, “The Great Little Train Robbery,” originally appeared in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine (June 1985), was reprinted in Detective Mystery Stories (September 2002), in Sniplits (April 2008), and, as “The Great Train Robbery,” in Kings River Life (August 19, 2017).

MOST PRESTIGOUS REPRINTS

“Smoked,” first published in Noir at the Salad Bar: Culinary Tales with a Bite (Level Best Books, 2017), was selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), and “Feel the Pain,” first published in Flesh and Blood: Guilty as Sin (Mysterious Press, 2003), was selected for inclusion in The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005).

MOST CONVOLUTED PUBLISHING HISTORY

“Of Memories Dying,” first published in Midnight (Tor Books, 1985), has the most convoluted publishing history. After it first appeared, an agent told me it would make a great opening chapter for a horror novel, and I began working with it.

Though I was unable to turn it into a novel, I did turn it into a novella. “In the Town of Memories Dying and Dreams Unknown” was included in my audiobook collection Even Roses Bleed (Books in Motion, 1995).

In 2000, retitled as In the Town of Dreams Unborn and Memories Dying, Barley Books released it in England as a small-sized gift book.

In 2002, the original story was included in Canvas Bleeding (Wildside Press, 2002), a collection of my horror stories.

I later wrote “Dreams Unborn,” a non-horror novella prequel published in Small Crimes (Betancourt & Co., 2004), and “Dreams Unborn” was named an Other Distinguished Story in The Best American Mystery Stories 2005.

And the original story—“Of Memories Dying”—was recently reprinted in Horror for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads (Fantastic Books, 2021).

TRANSLATIONS AND OTHER RIGHTS

In addition to straight-forward reprints, I’ve also licensed audio rights to several stories, I’ve licensed foreign-language rights—Chinese, German, Italian—to another handful, and I once negotiated, but ultimately didn’t license, film rights to one.

TAKEAWAY

I’ve listed several of my reprint and subsidiary rights placements, but the point isn’t that I’ve had these opportunities. The point is that all writers who retain rights to their work can license reprint and subsidiary rights over and over and over again.

But whether we actively seek them out or whether the opportunities find us, we must own the rights to our work in order to take advantage of these opportunities.


“Sonny’s Encore” appears in Black Cat Mystery Magazine #9and my private eye story Disposable Women was published yesterday at Tough.

As the editor of Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 1I’m quite pleased to note that Alan Orloff received a Thriller Award for his story “Rent Due” and Andrew Welsh-Huggins was nominated for a Thriller for his story “The Mailman.”

7 comments:

  1. It's always fun and interesting to hear about someone's publishing history, especially with regard to certain kinds of stories or certain kinds of marketing (like the sale of reprints).

    Congrats as always on all your accomplishments!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's always fun and interesting to hear about someone's publishing history, especially with regard to certain kinds of stories or certain kinds of marketing (like the sale of reprints).

    Congrats as always on all your accomplishments!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations, Michael - as always, you are the most published among us. I'm beginning to think you're more published than Stephen King.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michael, you amaze all of us applying your business acumen with your writing talent.

    When you active seek to license reprints, can you give us an example of what you mean?

    When you create an audiobook, do you read them or employ a professional?

    Enquiring minds want to know!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looking to place reprints is much the same as looking to place original work. When I'm scouring anthology calls for submissions and periodical submission guidelines, I'm keeping an eye out for any willingness to consider previously published work. For example, Unnerving, which recently reprinted my story "Fading Memories" mentioned somewhere a) a desire to see erotic horror stories and b) a willingness to consider reprints. Bingo! I thought I had just the story. So, I submitted "Fading Memories," mentioned the story's previous publication, and had an acceptance in no time. The editors of Horror for the Throne put out a call for short horror stories and noted that they were particularly interested in reprints. I submitted three stories and one was accepted. (Remember, though many of use the word "sale," what we're actually doing is licensing the use of our work, not actually selling it. [Unless, as I have done on occasion, one sells all rights. Once one sells all rights, there's nothing left to license.])

    The only audio of me reading my own work was when I recorded "Oystermen" for EQMM's podcast. In every other case an audio publisher has hired the talent and handled the production. That's not something I particularly want to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered how that worked. Thanks, Michael.

      Delete

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