Why I Won’t Buy a Story Off Your Blog

I’ve been puttering around over on the Flash Fiction Online side of things (not really… I’ve been busting arse getting tomorrow’s issue loaded but that’s beside the point..) and I’ve noticed quite the trend. Over on the Submissions page, I’m getting a lot, and I mean bucket loads, of questions about digital publication rights, specifically first digital publication rights.

Some of you are asking what are digital publication rights? They’re the copyrights to the online version of a story.

First digital publication rights means that I, the publisher, gets to be the first person to ever (and I mean EVER…ever, ever, ever, as in never before seen the light of a laptop screen.. but more on that in a second..) publish a story online.  Because Flash Fiction Online only buys FIRST digital rights.  Not second, third, or fourth…which are known as reprints. Some magazines do. And that’s spiffy dandy. Heck, it’s better than that. It’s fantasmic because that means authors make more money, and as an author myself, I’m all for that.


If you have ever typed out your story and posted it in any of the following ways:

  1. Twitter
  2. A blog post
  3. Facebook
  4. Tumblr
  5. Reddit
  6. Pinterest
  7. A non-password protected web forum
  8. Self published
  9. As part of a longer work that fits any of these categories
  10. Anywhere else on the internet where people can read it without you sending it privately to them via email or protecting the contents with a password
  11. Anywhere else that I can’t think of including but not limited to glowing lunar landers with scrolling data bars or automatons resembling Jimmy Kimmel with Android screens in place of their eyesockets.


Even if you have now deleted said piece from its online home, those rights have still been lost. If you posted it, you published it. And by publishing it, you used your first digital publication rights.  Which means, we can’t buy them… because you already used them.

First digital rights are like a uber cool, special literary smoothie. And once you drink that uber-cool smoothie, it’s gone. Some publications like second round smoothies. But here at FFO, we only buy uber-cool special smoothies.

Now, you may think you’re sly. That you’re Twitter feed was sooooo last year and that we here at FFO will never know that your story appeared on it.  That we’ll buy your story and publish you and you’ll go onto great things and you can pass off your second-hand smoothie in place of uber cool special smoothie.

And you might.

But….. the publishing world is not as big as you might think. And you know how you hear that the one person you don’t want to make angry is your editor? Well, the other person you don’t want to make mad is your publisher because we write the paychecks. Trust me. If we find out that you’ve sent us a second hand smoothie and I’ve paid you for an uber-cool smoothie, not only are you in violation of contract but your name becomes quite recognizable among a very small group of people who you’d probably like to sell stories to again in the future.

And there’s this beautiful thing called Google.  It’s amazing what you can find.

So do not, whatever you do, I repeat, DO NOT send stories that have seen the light of the internet to FFO. And before you send them anywhere else, I highly advise you to check the submission guidelines and label re-prints accordingly.

My best advice: go write a brand new, uber-cool smoothie and submit it!

Publisher,  Flash Fiction Online


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