A publisher is interested in some devotionals a friend wrote. They pay an honorarium of $35 per item, and then they want full rights forever. My friend wonders if this is typical and fair to sell full rights for a piece?
First, I don’t think anyone can make decent money writing devotionals. They do it for other reasons.
I earned $15 each for some I wrote several years ago. They wanted full rights for one year after publication. Now the rights have reverted to me. I heard of another publication that pays $60 per piece, also with a one-year stipulation.
In another case, I did sell full rights in perpetuity for some teen devotionals for $30, but it wasn’t for the money. I had other motivations. Though they wrote fast, by the time I had finished several rounds of edits to make them just right, I suspect I made minimum wage for my efforts.
I don’t give anyone exclusive rights in perpetuity—unless I have a strategic reason to do so. To be able to say my work appeared in a prestigious publication is one good reason, but I wouldn’t give them something I wanted to use elsewhere or was part of a series.
The publisher’s offer isn’t untypical. (Fairness is another issue.) It boils down to are you willing to give up your words forever for $35?
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.