View Full Version : Posting poems and First Rights...

03-04-2005, 07:29 PM
I've heard it said with some authority on another board that posting poems (or other written works) is looked upon by the publishing world as giving up first rights to that piece. Since it has already been "published" in a forum, you can no longer sell first rights to the piece, but only one-time, or reprint rights. Any comments on this?

03-04-2005, 07:43 PM
Some editors will sometimes have it in their writer's guidelines--but not many--and it does vary widely. That includes includes one's own website. The same situation applies to prose. Off hand I recall Glimmer Train explaining their position in detail.

I've put a few short stories, essays, and poems up on another board, but I only leave them for less than 24 hours then erase. That's just me--who so far pretty much errs on the side of caution in these matters. Absolute Write is a well-populated board, and that also can make a difference.

03-04-2005, 08:25 PM
This is straight from Glimmer Train Stories FAQ's. (This same FAQ was there when they were still accepting poetry.) It covers a multitude of sins, but remember this is just one pub. I'm pasting it because I think it gives some insight into first rights problems:

<<You only accept “unpublished” work. Define that please.

“This can be a tough one. If you’ve made 50 copies of your manuscript for classmates and friends, for instance, we'd call that unpublished. Heck, even if you had Kinko's bind them, we'd go for that. But if someone else put it out--say the school newspaper, or your writing group, we would look at that as published, especially if more than one piece of work (all yours, or yours and someone else's) was included in the pages. (Fifty copies of a collection of people’s writing in it just about qualifies as a “litmag” these days.) And if there is ANY advertising, no matter the number of copies printed, it will be considered “previously published” by anyone I know.

Posted “only on a website”? That is generally okay by us. Our concerns are twofold: 1) That the large majority of our readers not have previously read a story we print, and, 2) That you have the right to offer us first-print publication rights.

We reserve the right to request a copy of the distributed piece or access the spot where it resides before deciding if the piece seems “published” to us.>>

Betty W01
03-06-2005, 12:38 AM
As Rich said, do remember this is only one publication's policy. I have read other editorial comments that indicate even putting a poem on your own website makes it "published". To be on the safe side, here's a way you can handle it: post the title of a poem that you want critiqued and ask interested critiquers to contact you via board e-mail. Then you can send each interested person a copy of the poem, and they can critique it and send it back to you the same way. Just a thought...

03-06-2005, 05:30 AM
That's a good idea, Betty. There is enough of a question that it's probably wise to play it safe. Many of my writer friends don't even post their own work in their website until after it has been published.

03-07-2005, 07:55 PM
I only put poems on my website once they have been published in print, so as to avoid not potentially "wasting" my first rights.