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Literary Journal Contracts: Terms And Conditions

By Writers Relief Staff

Finally, finally, you get a “yes,” and a literary journal or magazine is willing to publish your short story, essay, or poem—congratulations! The journal editor faxes you a contract, and you sign it without a second thought, right?

Wrong. Before you sign a literary journal contract, be sure to take a closer look so you understand what rights you are granting.

While literary journal contracts are typically brief—no more than a page or so—what they say will legally bind you to their terms. Remember: A contract typically favors the person who drafted it. When in doubt, get an attorney to review your contract.

Here are the basic terms you’ll need to know:

Granting First North American Serial Rights (FNASR) means that you allow the publisher to be the first to publish your piece in a print periodical. FNASR also means that if the publisher wants to put your work on the journal or magazine’s website or in an anthology, you should be granted a separate contract. Once the work’s been published, rights revert to you—which means you can publish the work again!

Some publishers ask for the non-exclusive right to post your work on their website. You can suggest a period of time after which you can ask for the work to be taken off of the website and the journal (or magazine) will comply. However, you probably wouldn’t ask for your work to be removed from a print journal, would you? An editor may withdraw an offer of publication if you cannot agree on the terms.

Learn more about e-rights and no-written-contract agreements: No Written Contract? What You Should Know Before You Agree To Publication.

Proofreading: Most publishing contracts indicate that editors will not change the content of your writing—other than proofreading for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you’re concerned about these small edits (which might have big consequences), simply request that the journal let you review the grammatical changes prior to publication.

Representations that literary journals typically seek from authors include: that the writer is the sole author of the work, that the work has not been published previously in print or online, that the work does not infringe on any other rights, and that the author is the exclusive owner of the rights (s)he is conveying to the journal.

Sometimes, contracts state that the journal “requests” or “expects” an author to cite this first appearance of the work in any future collection or publication by the author. This may or may not be part of your particular contract.

Whether the request is official or unofficial, ignore it at your own risk! Writer’s Relief says, “If you promise, follow through!” Otherwise, you risk being blacklisted by the small community of literary journal editors.

Finally, some contracts indicate that this contract supersedes all previous understandings. The contract could also note that it is the “complete agreement.” Both clauses simply mean that no other oral or written term or agreement applies to the contract. For example, that phone call you had with the editor in which she promised you that she would take your work off the website in six months is of no effect unless it’s in writing and in that contract.



Grammar, writing tips and articles



    Top 20 Misused (and Mistreated) Words

accept: to receive; to answer positively

except: not including; everything but

anxious: worried/nervous

eager: excited/looking forward to

affect: to pretend; to influence

effect: a result

assure: to make certain (such as with a person)

ensure: to make sure (such as with a thing)

insure: to provide or obtain insurance

beside: at the side of

besides: in addition to

between: two items that are related

among: three or more things related

choice: a decision or an option

choose: to make a decision

chose: past tense of choose

compliment: to praise

complement: something that completes

farther: literal or physical distance

further: to a greater extent

fewer: comparative with plural items

less: items that are singular

imply: to suggest

infer: to deduce

its: possessive form of it

its: contraction for it is or it has

lay: to place, which is always followed by an object

lie: to recline

**For present tense only. Tip: If you can replace the word in question with put, then use lay.


nauseated: not feeling well

nauseous: disgust

As per Merriam Webster: nauseous = causing nausea or disgust.

Nauseated means experiencing nausea, whereas nauseous means causing nausea��in other words, offensive or loathsome. If you feel a queasy sensation in your stomach, you are nauseated; only if you cause other people to be ill are you nauseous.

set vs. sit:

In general, set refers to an object ("Set the materials down on the table") and sit does not ("She sat for an hour, waiting for the bus").

 that vs. which

--"Which" is frequently used to introduce a nonrestrictive clause, a phrase that isnt necessary or supplies additional information and is usually set off by commas.

For example: The burned CD, which she received from a friend, wasnt as great of quality as the original from a music store.

--"That" is used for introducing restrictive clauses that refer to things, phrases that ARE essential to the meaning of the rest of the sentence.

For example: The CD that consists of all of the bands top-ten singles is her favorite.

that vs. who/whom

In most cases, "who/whom" is the standard form when referring to human beings, especially in regards to an individual person. "That" is used when referring back to a class, species, or type. "Which" should never be used in reference to humans.

A correct example with "who": She goes to the hairstylist who is the best.

A correct example with "that": He is the type of hairstylist that should charge more because he is the best.

their: possessive form of they

there: in or at that place

                                       theyre: contraction for they are

                                       whose: possessive form of which, who

                                       whos: contraction for who is

                                                    your: possessive form of you; belonging to you

                                       youre: contraction for you are  

_Writer's Relief, Inc.

  Grammar rules to remember: 

1. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

2. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

3. Verbs  has to agree with their subjects.

4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive

5. Avoid clichlike the plague.

6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

7. Be more or less specific.

8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

10. No sentence fragments.

11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.

12. Kill all exclamation points!!!!

13. Don't use no double negatives.

14. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and  omit it when its not needed.

15. The passive voice is to be ignored.

16. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.

17. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth great ideas.

18. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.

19. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

20.One should NEVER generalize.

(taken from Dan Rosenbaum: "Rules for Writers")

 Prepositions usually are short words that link parts of sentences.

1. Prepositions change nouns or pronouns (and their modifiers) or any
word group functioning as a noun into prepositional phrases.

Examples of nouns: cat, table, book

Examples of prepositional phrases (preposition + noun):

whiskers OF the cat

bowl ON the table

pages IN the book

  Prepositions that are used to form two-word verbs are called

Joseph RAN AWAY from the problem. ("ran" = verb + "away" =

Gerald TURNED IN his essay. ("turned" = verb + "in" =

Other examples of two-word verbs using prepositions which function as

aim at

bring about

call up

head out

mark up

put out

turn out.
 Prepositional phrases often serve as modifiers within a sentence:

The whiskers [of the cat] began to twitch.                 

That bowl [on the table] is cracked.

The underlined pages [in the book] are smudged.