Getting Paid

Here's an interesting glimpse into the life of a freelance writer - we have to beg for our money.

I spent an hour or so yesterday following up on payments owed me for articles already published. It's astonishing how often I have to do this. One payment I checked on yesterday was for a humor article published in March that I wrote for a Florida family magazine. The magazine is usually good about paying so it was unusual I hadn't received a check. I sent an e-mail and found out that in the move (they're changing buildings) my payment was somehow overlooked. They put it in the mail to me yesterday.

I had to take a publisher to small claims court this summer for monies owed.  A publication owed me close to $2000 and had stopped taking my calls or replying to my e-mails. I filed suit in small claims court and we were scheduled for a Monday hearing. The Friday before--at 5 o'clock, no less--the publisher called and agreed to send me payment in full. He apologized and said he got behind and money was tight at the magazine.

Writers hear that excuse a lot. "Money is tight." I don't know why that's considered an acceptable excuse to not pay someone for their work. Would you go into your accounting or HR or shipping department and say, "Money is tight. We'll try to get you your check out next month?"

The frustrating part of the above incident was that I had offered to work with this publisher on numerous  occasions. I said he could send me partial payments as long as he let me know what was going on. But to just drop all contact when you owe me that much money? Forget it. I'm going after your ass.  I just don't understand the logic. All it would have taken from him to stop the court mess was a two -minute phone call to me.  Pride goeth before a fall, I suppose.

Some magazines are great about payment. Art Jewelry for example, where I write my marketing column. They're like clockwork.  Others it's not the payment they get behind on, but sending me the finished work.

For example, I have a new book out. A coffee table book on cats. I think it's been out for a month or two but I haven't seen it yet. I e-mailed yesterday to check and see where my copies are and the publisher thought they had already sent them to me so they're checking on it.  It's odd having a book come out and no one bothering to tell you about it. Such is the work-for-hire lifestyle.

All that said, I've only been stiffed once in my life on payment so that's not too bad.  A lot of writers have some sad money tales to tell about pouring their heart into a work and then never seeing a dime.

I'll let you all know when I get the book and how you can find it.