Thanks For the Kill Fee! Wait - What's a Kill Fee?

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Q. Hello, I am completely new to the publishing world. When a publisher says, "30% kill fee" or "no kill fee", what does that mean? What is a kill fee?
- Patrice

A. Kill Fee is a term I usually hear in my magazine freelancing endeavors. It's a small lump sum of money you get if the deal somehow falls through on their end and they can't use your work. Let's say you get an assignment from Space Magazine for $600. You turn in the piece and it's A-OK. But, for some reason, they can't use it. Maybe they switch from 12 issues to 6 because of budget cuts. They have no room for your piece. What they'll do is offer you a Kill Fee. They pay you a fraction of the agreed price (usually 25%) and give you the piece back. So, essentially, someone from Space Magazine writes and says "Sorry we can no longer use your piece. Here is $150, and you can have all rights back to your piece. Best of luck selling it elsewhere."

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