2 thoughts on “Thanks For the Kill Fee! Wait – What's a Kill Fee?

  1. LaurenHunter

    I pitched and accepted an assignment for a feature article. Between the pitch and the delivery, the editor at the publication changed. The new editor didn’t have record of the old editor’s approval of the article. Apparently it didn’t make it on the master schedule. They acquiesced and paid me the agreed upon $800 payment and paid it even though my contract was “payment upon publication.” This was kind. However, here we are a year later and they haven’t run the article. I’ve inquired and the editorial coordinator hasn’t been able to find out what they are doing with the piece. I’m not sure what I can do but I really want to pitch the article and try to sell it to another publication. Should I offer to give back the $800 payment or ask for a “kill fee” or “release” that they aren’t going to use the article after all? What are my rights? I did sign an agreement, which simply says they have “the right to reprint ‘The Work’ in digital format, promotional material and reprints.” It says nothing about “first rights” or about owning sole rights.

    Can I just move forward and try to sell the piece elsewhere? Do I even need to continue dealing with them when it appears that they won’t use the piece? (The new editor and I had a falling out over another piece, so I doubt she will ever want to run it anyways but don’t want to get in trouble down the road.)

  2. Pat

    My best kill fee was for a book review for the New York Times when I was just starting out as a published writer. At the time, I loved to brag to people that I almost got published in the Times! These days I wonder if getting published in the Times is even a big deal, much less something to brag about. 🙂