I sold a flash sized zombie story a couple of years back to a little outfit called Space Squid. I was never satisfied with it so I rewrote it - completely reworking the original 900 words - and expanded it into a 3300 word piece. Anyone who had read it before would recognize the original in the opening scene (if their memory was that good) but would see that a fuller story had evolved out of it.
My question is, at what point can you shed reprint from a work and call it an orginal unpublished work? I've changed the title and can claim that it is 80% new. Is that good enough? Markets for reprints are a fraction of what will accept unpublished works only. Could you in clear conscience claim it was an original story to an editor?
Posts: 2988 | Registered: Dec 2007
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As long as the previous publication is acknowledged on the new or expanded piece for submission and publication purposes, and you hold the copyright rights to the original, and if Space Squid holds the copyright of the original, a good faith effort is made to notify them if any new or expanded publication of a derivative work is made, then yes, you can submit in good conscience to another publication.
Otherwise, there's a risk of "recycling fraud" or self-plagairism, which can result in either or both civil or criminal penalties and other headaches. Though "self-plagiarism" is a more common concern in academic publication circles than in commercial publishing, recycling concerns nonetheless come up in commercial publishing and cause heartaches for all concerned.
An expanded version of a previously published work falls into a twilight between new and expanded, and recycled or reprinted. The inspiration is the same, the core creative vision is the same. The differences are, I assume, a larger work based on identical premises. Avoiding most, if not all, potential complications is a simple matter of an acknowledgment of the previous publication.
Just include in the cover letter the information that the submission is a 3300-word complete rewriting and expansion of a 900-word story, also written by you, that was originally published in SPACE SQUID.
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Ironically, Sheena, OSC's Ender's Game was the story I had in mind when I wrote this post, the only title to win the Hugo in two different years under different catagories.
Most people would might say it was a reprint but did you know only one line of that story made it from the Novella to the Novel?
...the gate is open...
If you ever listen to Mr Card's reminsce at the end of the audio version of the novel, you would hear that he considered it an original work.
Copyright of my original is not an issue, I hold all the rights to it. Your insights are very helpful, extrinsic, but writing in a cover letter "an acknowledgment of the previous publication" is what I am exactly whta I am hoping to avoid. Semantically, I have just informed the editor it is a reprint. Not only have I likely guaranteed a rejection right then and there, I feel as if it isn't a reprint at all.
My new story only uses a rewritten version of the old piece as an opening act. Two of the characters, and a couple of punchlines, are the same, but the story pursues a different direction. In my mind, it's not the same story at all. Hence, my question...
At what point does a reprint cease to be a reprint?
There is a line here. 'Identical premises' can't be the standard or it call every sequel into question, not to mention modernizing old ideas. For example, would you call the Batman with Michael Keaton the same story as the Batman with Christian Bale? I wouldn't, although the basic premise is identical.
Would the fact that I used identical characters in a similar situation qualify? I'm not so sure. At some point the story is no longer the same when you change it's DNA so it is no longer the same species.
Let me pose this scenario to you. Say I wrote a story called Merlion and the Bean Stalk and sold it to publication who publishes fantasy. Then two years later I write Foste the Snowman and plan on sending it to a Sci-Fi pub. I feel the first two paragraphs of Merlion would be perfect for Foste, so I use them. Other than the first 100 words, the stories are different. Would I be obligated to note in my cover letter of the Sci-Fi publication that the opening is identical to a story I wrote? If so, would I need to write the same acknowledgement if I only used the first sentence?
At some point, old becomes new. Just because I use much of the same ingredients, you can't claim my Stuffed Peppers is the same dish as my Rolled Cabbage.