Looking To Get Paid

Author:
Publish date:


Q: I've been writing articles in one of the local papers here in our hometown, but I've never been paid for my work. The Editor/Publisher of the paper knows me personally. Do I have the right to ask for some compensation for my articles? (Thanks to avid reader Soly Paraiso for this question)

A: There are two separate issues here to consider 1) Can you ask for compensation on pieces that have already run for free and 2) Can you ask for payment on future pieces after writing for free for so long?

Luckily, my brilliant flag-football skills allow me to tackle them both with one post.

If you’ve been sending material to a local paper and haven’t asked for compensation (money, free subscription, box of Goldfish Crackers) and don’t have a contract, it’s difficult to ask for money post-publication. It’s possible the editor ran the pieces only because they were free, or maybe he was testing you out before buying down the road. In any case, I think it’s unwise to ask for money after the pieces have already been published.

Moving forward (and to answer the second part of the question), you should most definitely ask for compensation on all future writing assignments. It doesn’t matter whether the editor is your friend, neighbor or mother-in-law, she should be paying you for your services. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t expect a life insurance agent to give you insurance for free, would you? (If your answer is yes, I’d like to know the name of your agent).

Of course, writing for a local paper isn’t the most lucrative of all freelance gigs, so don’t have unrealistic expectations when negotiating. Remember, other writers—like yourself—will write for pennies (or less) early in their career to get clips, network and establish themselves in the writing community. But once you build a rapport and show you can do the job, it’s not unreasonable to ask for compensation. If the editor says no, you don’t really lose anything—considering you’ve made zero dollars so far. At best, you can earn a little something to help with a vacation fund or, better yet, a subscription to Writer’s Digest (Hey, I had to throw it in there!).

Take care of yourself and your writing,
Brian A. Klems

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line.

Vintage WD_Conder Soule 11:26

Vintage WD: Poetry without Rhyme—Or Even Thees and Thous

In this article from 1977, children’s writer and poet Jean Conder Soule explores the question, “How will I know when I’ve written a poem?”

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 26

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a thankful poem.

Richard_11:24

Building Better Worlds: Five Tips to Guide Your Planning Process

Writer and WD editor Moriah Richard shares her top advice to help you fight world-building overwhelm and organize your story.

March_11:25

Why I Write Mysteries

Mystery writer Nev March shares how she found herself writing historical mysteries and what she hopes readers will get from her storytelling.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 25

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write an exaggerated poem.

Chow_11:24

5 Tips on How to Write a Cunning but Cozy Mystery Novel

Author Jennifer J. Chow shares her expertise on what makes a great cozy mystery novel engaging and thrilling.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's two-for-Tuesday prompt is to write a love and/or anti-love poem.

steal_vs_steel_vs_still_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Steal vs. Steel vs. Still (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use steal vs. steel vs. still on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.