June 09, 2004

Ask The Expert For June 9th | printable version

~Editor Asked for Article...But No Contract?~

Hi Angela,

I subscribe to your newsletter, and wanted to get your opinion on a situation if you have time to read and respond to this email. I am new to freelancing and back in March I had an editor of a small, craft type magazine enthusiastically respond to my e-query about an article I had already pretty much written.

She happily asked me to submit the article, so I tweaked it a bit to suit her magazine, provided professional grade photographs (prints and CD), provided copies of printed resources I had used from published books, and gave her the contact info for all sources I had interviewed (which took about four hours by the way, not to mention the hunting down time to get the contact info for these people, one of whom was the author of said books I used). All of this was without a contract of any sort, but she'd been so enthusiastic about my query letter and encouraging over email exchange that I thought it was a pretty good sign she'd be interested in the article, or at least tell me what she wanted changed.

Another thing is that she responded very, very promptly to every email I sent her before mailing in the article as I was having some technical computer problems and wanted to keep her posted on progress.

Well, that was almost two months ago. She confirmed back in early April via email that she'd received my package with article, photos, CD, and fact checking materials, but didn't say anything in terms of how long it would be before she'd let me know something and not a word about payment or byline or anything. That gave me a very bad feeling, and ta-da, I haven't heard a peep out of her since. Two weeks ago (after she'd had the article for one month), I sent a nice follow-up email asking her if she'd made a decision yet as to whether or not she was going to use it and once more offering to make any changes she wanted in order to suit it to the magazine. No reply. Zippo. Nothing.

So now I'm wondering just what the heck is up. What are your thoughts on this situation? Was I a complete dope for doing all this work without a contract? Am I expecting too much in terms of wanting a reply of some sort after six, going on seven weeks? What should I do now??

Thanks for any insight you can give me.

You've been patient enough and I definitely think you should email her and demand a contract. She should have never asked for your story without offering a contract. It may be a non-paying publication she may be trying to hoodwink you into giving away your work. Retract your submission and demand they return your materials at once.



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