One Writer’s Journey

March 10, 2015

Work-for-hire vs royalty: Rights and How Writers Make their Money

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:35 am
Tags: , ,

royalty rights etcRecently, I met several new-to-me writers.  They’re both prepublished and asked me questions about how I am paid for various jobs.  There seem to be just as many terms for rights and payments types as there are publishers.  Here are the ones that I encounter most often.

Work-for-hire.  The writing that I do for Red Line and is work-for-hire.  That means that they own the copyright and I am paid a set amount.  No matter how much money these items earn the publisher, I’m done.  I won’t make any more.  This is the kind of writing that I consider short term income.  It pays the bills I have today.

All Rights.  See work-for-hire.  An all-rights sale means that you are signing over all rights to the publisher.  Again, you make one lump sum.

Royalty.  The work I do for Schoolwide is royalty based.  I will earn a percentage on sales of my work.  The more my work sells, the I make but I don’t make anything until it sells.  This is long-term income for tomorrow or the day after.

Royalty with Advance.  I haven’t been in this position . . . yet!  When you sell a book, you are sometimes paid an advance against royalties.  The publisher pays you $500 or whatever when you deliver the project.  When the work starts to sell, the publisher keeps track of how much you have earned in royalties.  You will get a check once this amount is greater than the advance.

One time rights.  This means that you give the publisher permission to use your work one time for one payment.  No royalties.  That was the deal I had with Young Equestrian.  You can sell this to publishers who take reprints.

First North American Serial Rights.  This is like one time rights, but you are telling the publisher that they are the first ones in North America to publish this work.

Reprints.  These are pieces that have been published elsewhere but were not an all rights sale.  My pieces with Schoolwide were all one time or first rights sales.  Schoolwide is reprinting them as e-books.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but I hope it gives you some understanding of the terms you will see in various publisher’s guidelines.




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