Q - Currently I write devotionals under a work-for-hire agreement. These agreements leave little or no rights to use the material again later. Years ago I sold my work under a "First rights" policy. Is this outdated now or are First Rights agreements sill in effect?
A - You are right that Work-for-hire contracts do not allow you sell the same material elsewhere--ever. This is opposed to selling All Rights where the rights will revert to you after 35 years.
And, yes, First Rights is still the most common transfer of rights in publishing. For those who are not clear on rights, First Rights means exacly what it says--you are giving the publisher the right to publish your material for the first time. As soon as it is actually published and distributed the rights automatically revert to you, the author.