Why Woman’s Weekly contract changes matter even to poets

I’m a poet so news of the Woman’s Weekly contract changes for short stories was slow to come to the surface. It’s a useful illustration of why all writers (including poets) need to care about their rights and be cautious about what terms are in the contracts they sign.

Woman’s Weekly parent group has recently rebranded as TI Media and part of the rebrand seems to be changes to the short story contracts.

Generally if you sell a poem or short story to a magazine, it is on the understanding that you sell either first publication or one-time publication rights so the magazine can publish the poem or story. You are not selling any other rights and retain copyright so that you can publish your story or poem elsewhere, include it in a collection, have it translated or have your work adapted for another medium (e.g. film or an app). Regardless whether you were paid in cash or by complimentary copy for the sale to the magazine, you can still make money on your poem or story elsewhere.

If a magazine asks for any other rights, double check you understand what you’re being asked to sign. You should not be giving a magazine the right to republish your story without permission or payment, adapt your story for other media without permission or payment to you, translate it into another language or sell foreign rights without payment to you, make your story into a film or app without permission or payment to you or leave you unable to publish your poem or story elsewhere unless you obtain permission from the magazine or award themselves the right to republish your poem or story without crediting you (moral rights). They didn’t write your piece, you did, therefore you should benefit from selling the rights to use your poem or story.

This is what TI Media are asking from short story writers. Moreover, not only are they asking for more rights, they have reduced the amount they pay writers. So writers are being asked to give up more for less.

Why should poets, or at least those who don’t also write short stories, care? It shows writers should be protective of their rights and not succumb to a perceived power imbalance between writer and publisher. It shows that writers desperate to get into print should pause and think through the consequences. It is not worth losing your story to see your name in Woman’s Weekly.

One Response to “Why Woman’s Weekly contract changes matter even to poets”

  1. Robin Houghton Says:

    This is very interesting Emma, thanks for posting.

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