Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Accepted, but never published

Vanessa Couchman from Caylus, France asked: What recourse do you have if an editor agrees to publish your article, but then changes his/her mind later on?

Providing you have some form of proof that the article had been commissioned or accepted, such as a contract or acceptance email, then you would be able to claim a kill fee if the work wasn’t published.

This applies regardless of whether the piece was submitted on spec or commissioned. If the editor has said yes, but then decides not to use the work at a later stage, the author can submit an invoice for a percentage of the magazine’s usual rate, or a percentage of the amount agreed at time of acceptance. The main exception would be if work was commissioned, but the article submitted was so poorly presented that the editor was unable to use it.

A kill fee is a percentage (often, but not always, fifty per cent) of the original fee agreed with an editor for a particular piece of work, which is then subsequently not published.

Do be aware that not all magazines pay kill fees. If you submit work to a publication whose guidelines state that kill fees are not paid, you have effectively accepted their conditions, and therefore cannot claim a kill fee if commissioned work is not used.

Acceptance of a kill fee does not affect your rights and you would be entitled to resell that piece of work to a rival publication.

Lorraine Mace, co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist, runs Flash 500, a quarterly flash fiction competition.

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