Monday, 20 June 2011

Published, but not paid

Deena from St Ives was torn between joy and distress recently after buying a magazine. She writes: Two weeks ago I went to Asda shopping and I bought a few magazines. I have been trying to write articles for various magazines. When I was going through [name of magazine withheld by me] in the Letter and Tips section, I found my name and the letter I had written. I was happy and gutted at the same time because they did not inform me or pay me anything and they say if they print letters they pay £20. It was just by chance that day I bought the magazine, so I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I’m worried now that they might publish one of my articles without paying me. Is there anything I can do?

Yes, there is something you can do. With regard to the letter that has been published, you should contact the magazine in question, quoting the issue date or number and the page where your letter appeared. I’m sure in this case it’s an oversight on their part and they will be only too happy to pay you the amount stated.

If you discover that a magazine has published an article without paying you then I suggest you make up an invoice and submit it with a covering letter requesting payment on receipt. You can either charge at the going rate offered by the magazine, or you can use the rates outlined by the National Union of Journalists (although it is highly unlikely that you would receive such a rate).

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Alex G said...

Hello - sorry but I'd have to respectfully disagree. You rarely get notice of a letter being published, and payment can come around a month after publication. I would advise sitting tight. Hassling a busy editorial department is not going to endear you. This process is usually efficient at weekly magazines: I'm sure payment will arrive.

In the case of an article, I would call up the magazine in the first instance to see what they have to say, then take it from there.

Lorraine Mace said...

Hi Alex, my experience has always been the opposite and I've been paid within a week or two of a letter appearing, but I take your point about not hassling too soon.

However, I feel very strongly about editors using work without getting in touch with the writer first to accept the piece.

I had a situation some years back where I'd submitted a humour article on spec and didn't receive a reply in any form whatsoever. Rather like my letter writer, months later I picked up the magazine and found my humour piece had been used, which would have pleased me had they let me know it was going to be published.

Unfortunately, so much time had passed, without any response to my follow up emails, that I'd assumed the editor wasn't interested and sent it to a rival magazine who then accepted it for publication.

I had to go back to the editor who'd had the decency to reply and withdraw the work. I was not pleased.

I contacted the first magazine by phone and email and only finally got paid when I submitted an invoice demanding payment on receipt.

Lorraine Mace said...

Just chuckling to myself here - my answer to you is almost as long as the original post!

Alex G said...

Hi Lorraine - absolutely agree re: editors publishing an article without informing the writer being very bad form, but I'm just not sure sending an invoice is the ideal first action. A writer is in a strong position, legally and morally, to negotiate a very good deal. And there's always the possibility that it was a genuine error, or missing email/letter etc.
All the best,