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Travel writer Erica MillsThe feeling you get when you see your first travel story published in a magazine is incredible.

You pitched it to an editor. You got the email back—the one that says the editor wants your story. You’re proud as punch that someone else valued what you wrote.  

And on top of it all, you’re about to have a magazine in your hand with YOUR NAME and YOUR STORY inside – black ink with photos that memorialize your trip and the experiences you had there forever.

You’re famous and you want to share this moment.  But wait!

Before you do, stop a second—and check in with your editor. 

We’re living in an age where sharing is second nature. We see a positive news story and we upload it to Twitter. We take a nice family photo and we post it on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat. 

It feels like instinct to share everything we do—and believe me, you’ll want to do that with your first published piece… and the second… and the 100th. 

If you’re maintaining a writing website, blog or online portfolio, it feels like good business to show what you can and have done. And many publications will tell you that they like it when you share the published piece on your social media accounts, too.

But some publications DON’T. And this is where you can get into trouble.

Copyright law is complex and evolving, so I won’t try to tackle it here. 

But here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to sharing published stories on social media…

** Most publications like it if you share your story on social media.  Don’t take a picture of the article or cut and paste it into your feed.  Go to their website and look for a “share” button or your preferred social media icon.  If none exists, copy and paste the link into your platform.  This is the most accepted form of sharing, and it’s understood that if they don’t want it shared, they shouldn’t post it on the internet.

** If you’re cutting and pasting the article in any way… if you’re manipulating it to get it to fit somewhere… then that should be a red flag that you need to run it by an editor.  Bloggers like to take screen shots of the publications they’ve been published in, for example, and post that on their site… or cut and paste the first few paragraphs but this is tricky because that’s often a violation of copyright law.

Some magazines and newspapers clearly state how much of the publication you’re allowed to snip.  Others might say that they don’t allow it at all.

It’s courteous, sensible, and just plain smart to look at the guidelines first and then ask if it’s not stated there.

Do people do it anyway?  Of course they do.

Are they in violation of copyright law?  Yes, in some cases they are.

Will they ever be found out?  I’m not sure.

Is it worth the risk?  I don’t think so.

Travel writing today is more about relationships than it’s ever been.  Promoting the article on your social sites is a good way to support and encourage a good relationship with your editor.  Taking a picture of the content or cutting and pasting it on to your blog, on the other hand, could land you in a hot seat and is not a good way to foster a new relationship with an editor.

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