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Reprints, rewrites and reposts: maximum benefit from publishing articles

Let’s say you’ve finally published an article you’re really proud of -- your thoughts on how to encourage renewable energy generation by home-owners, particularly rooftop solar power. So how can you get the maximum possible benefit from your article? Three ways:

  • Reprints of your article, both in print and online
  • Rewriting the ideas in the article for other publication, including your own blog
  • Reposting the article on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other platforms

Start by getting a good idea of your rights to the text in your article -- is it yours? Can you do with it what you want, or does it belong to the publication?

Yes, you can re-publish your own work

I’m not a lawyer, but the recommendations I get from lawyers are reasonably clear -- if you haven’t sold rights to your work to the publication, you still retain rights to reproduce your own work. That is, unless you’ve signed a document to the contrary.

In most jurisdictions around the globe, there’s the concept of “fair use,” which allows for limited use of published material -- as in a student who makes a photocopy of a book page as an aid in studying or report-writing, or a businessperson who takes a screen shot of an interesting page off the Internet. So to that extent, you’re able to make a copy or PDF of your article as it appears in the publication.

But for large-scale distribution, it’s best to seek the editor’s permission -- and if the editor received the article at no cost, and wants continued contributions from you, they will likely grant permission. They may ask for you to credit the publication, and you should do this anyway -- the fact that the article appeared in a respected publication gives it greater credibility.

Should you pay for reprints of your own article?

Some publications have printed reprints of articles as a profit center, and they don’t like people getting in the way of that revenue stream. You can expect that the reprints they provide can be customized to meet your needs, such as adding your company logo, and they will be high-quality printing. They’ll likely also be expensive.

Most publications will also provide a PDF of your article -- again at a cost; the equivalent of US$100 or so seems a bit steep to me to have an intern spend five minutes producing and sending you a PDF. But publications need to make money, and this is part of how they do it.

Good design of reprints and PDFs

Some ideas on how to make reprints do their job for you:

  • If you can use an exact reproduction of the article as it appears on the page or on the screen, do it.
  • Cover up any advertisements that appear on the page; they’re a distractionfrom your message.
  • Include a longer biography of the author, with a picture and full contact information including website, phone number, email address and Twitter handle.
  • Add more detailed information on the organization.

Effective use of reprints and PDFs

Having printed copies of an article to hand out in face-to-face meetings has likely been part of business strategy for centuries. It still works. Much of business is still transacted face-to-face, and having an informative article that establishes your credibility is a greatway to, well, establish your credibility.

One downside to graphic-image reprints is that they are not mobile-friendly, which is increasingly important for reaching prospects where they are, literally. So an increasingly important choice would be to drop the graphics for online use and just produce a text document that can be read on a mobile device as well as desktop.

Rewriting your article for further publication

If you’ve put all that work into getting your ideas into words, why stop at one use of that material? You can reposition the basic ideas for different markets and different circumstances.

A word of warning: don’t send the same article to competing publications. That generally means, any publication pursuing the same market. Editors want exclusive content, and if they see the same text in their competitor’s publication, you won’t likely get a chance to publish there again.

But you likely have more than one market in mind. For example, with the solar-power example, you might have one article for a home-builder’s association website, talking about how to design homes with solar power in mind, and another for a publication read by municipal authorities on how they can encourage more solar power. So, the next use of your ideas won’t be an exact rewrite, but a repositioning of your ideas.

This way, you have reprints of your article that are applicable in more business situations.

Reposting your content online

Reprints, in PDF form, are also tremendously useful for electronic distribution.

Suggestions:

  • Have copies available on your hard drive, to easily attach to an e-mail to a new
  • contact.
  • Post copies to your LinkedIn profile.
  • In your groups on LinkedIn, start a Discussion about your article -- summarize the content and ask an intriguing question to start comments from your colleagues; attach a link to your article.
  • Send out several Tweets with a link to your article online.
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