Sell, sell & sell again

HOW CAN freelances market their work abroad most effectively? Peter Veenhoven and Ole Pijnacker Hordijk, owners of the Amsterdam-based International Features Agency (IFA, www.ifa-amsterdam.com) advised July's London Freelance Branch meeting on "what works and what doesn't" in syndicating abroad. We report John Toner's advice to the meeting on getting paid for work abroad separately, at www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1108abro.html

© Hazel Dunlop
Peter Veenhoven tells us how it works as Ole Pijnacker Hordijk looks on

Peter says that these days "there's less commissioning going on", so editors buy more via syndication. IFA has about 400 freelances, and resells to Europe, South America, Japan, and Australasia. About 90 per cent of sales are written interviews that feature somebody famous in a way relevant to at least three countries.

Most publications in the UK are buying First British Serial rights, so most freelances have the right to sell their work abroad without restrictions.

If you offer your work abroad after it's been in , say, Mojo, it "destroys about 80 per cent of its retail value abroad." If you don't want your story going abroad before its UK publication, you can let agencies know about its availability in advance - rather useful for the many publications that have three-month lead times.

For editors in much of the world outside the UK and the US, an interview has to be in Q & A format or "it's not regarded as an authentic story." You can write up different versions of an interview "for here and abroad," which also avoids possible copyright issues. And "it's very important that you can trust the information given," says Peter, so editors also need "all relevant details of the interview... when it was done, where it was done, whether any agreements were signed with PR people," and so on.

Rates are "not much higher abroad than in UK". The USA and Japan, the bigger markets, are "more interesting." After recent "rough" years, "things are really looking up" in the syndication market, according to Peter, especially in "emerging markets like Brazil, also in Germany, Belgium, Holland," all of which have seen some recent new launches. "If you think there's a weekly magazine in Belgium that would benefit from your work, contact them," he advises.

LFB photojournalist Julio Etchart, who sells his own visual reportage overseas, also reports that in recent years he's been syndicating a lot more to emerging markets - "Indian, Chinese and Brazilian publishers." Julio says it's "challenging" working with editors in "the South" but "more rewarding".

Peter says UK-based freelances have an advantage in that "everyone thinks highly of you (or did) and they can understand what you're saying." (In Japan, editorial teams have translators who pitch English-language stories to editors.)

Last modified: 05 Aug 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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