On spec? No pay or pay?

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Dear Angela,

Another writer suggested I contact you. What a magazine wants from me doesn’t sound quite right to her.

I wrote an article, on my own, and then queried a large Canadian magazine and asked if I could submit it to them. The editor responded right away and asked me to submit it ‘on spec’ since they haven’t dealt with me before and because the article is written in first person. She wants me to submit 750 words.

Does this mean that they can publish it without paying me for it because I’m ‘new’. Or worse rewrite it and not credit me at all?

Also, if they do want to buy it from me, how much should I ask to be paid for the article?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Lisa

No, on spec does not mean they can take it, remove your name, and use it as their own.

She wants you submit it with no guarantee from her that it’ll be published or paid for. She’ll be accepting in “on speculation.” If she likes it, they should send you a contract. You should, however, try to figure out what their standard rates are before you submit the piece. She may assume you’re donating the article to them (unethical, but true – some editors simply will never mention payment if a writer doesn’t and then will pretend to be surprised later when they’re asked for payment after the piece has been published).