Ask The Expert

Agent doesn’t/does charge a fee?

Hello. I've read a lot of articles that say agents should not charge fees but I wonder if this one is different. The agency promises to "provide a free evaluation of your entire work." Then, below the signature is the line. "We charge a $250.00 submission fee if you are offered a contract." Is that normal? I think that if it goes to contract then the contract should not cost anything. Otherwise it still seems like a reading fee. I'm confused. …

What Do I Say When They Say “No Pay”?

Angela: What do you say to the claim of many literary editors who say "Since we don't carry advertising, we can't pay our contributors." Cheers, Roy I simply tell them I won't contribute my valuable time to their hobby.

Do *Not* Edit A Chapter As A “Test!”

Hello Angela, My friend recommended I contact you. I found a freelance copyediting position (online). I emailed them expressing interest and with some questions about the company and they emailed me back with a sample chapter to edit. All of that is fine. But... They are a new company, they claim. They didn't answer any of my questions. I don't know what the pay rate would be. They don't have a website, but submissions guidelines are online with an address. When I called information to get a phone number, so I could find out some more about this company before I did any "test" or free editing, the operator didn't have any company listed. I'm a little nervous to say the least. I would greatly appreciate you help. Thank you so much in advance. J. …

Add a Contingency Clause to Your Freelance Contract

It's interesting that I read last week about having a contingency clause in a pays-on-publication contract because I signed one of those about six weeks ago without that kind of clause. I suppose I naively assumed the article would be published sooner than this fall. …

A Foreign Company Published My Book Without Permission!

Hi Angela, I periodically search my name through Google and check out any new hits on my name. I found a copy of my book, new cover and all, in what appears to be Hungarian. The only English words on the cover are my name and Fiesta at the top. I have NOT sold any foreign language rights. It's officially out of print by my publisher, so it's my problem. I don't know where to begin! Sharon …

Should I Pay These Companies for Their Book Promotion Services?

Hi Angela, I am wondering if you or Richard have an opinion on two book promotion possibilities: 1) Paying [a company] to help get me on radio talk shows, etc. 2) Having [a website] post an interview and book review on their website for $250.00 Thanks! Lynne …

Unauthorized Reselling Of Articles

Hello, Angela. I've been getting your Writers Weekly e-mails for quite a while, and think you do a terrific job. I have a question I'm wondering if you could help me with, or if you know someone who may be able to help. I am a freelance writer and I've been writing for a west suburban paper for nine years. Recently I noticed that my stories are popping up on Findarticles.com, www.questia.com, www.highbeam.com, goliath.ecnext.com, and maybe other sites, which charge a fee to read the complete stories. Now, none of these sites have ever gotten permission from me to post these articles, and I do not make one cent off the articles I wrote which they are "selling." Is what their doing legal? If not, what can I do? Although my articles appear in that large newspaper, I still retain the rights to what I've written. Is that meaningless, in the Internet age? Can anyone take what I've written and use it, even sell it? Sincerely, R …

Editor’s Procrastination Shouldn’t Be Your Problem

Hi Angela, What do you do with difficult editors? I just ran into two situations with two different editors that have set my teeth on edge. It's one of these situations where their procrastination becomes my problem. Essentially, I messed up by agreeing to do an article with a very short deadline, but I did let the editor know that I was concerned about my interviewees not cooperating with me in such a short time period. …

Help Leaping from Newspapers to Magazines

Angela, I have been reading your newsletter on and off now for ages now and I'm always amazed at your fluid personal style, but this was absolutely the cutest thing so far..."As her emails came faster and with more anger, she stopped using any capital letters at all. Can you imagine how embarrassed she would be if I published her emails?" …

Add A “Publish-By-Or-Pay” Clause To Your “Pays On Publication” Contracts

Angela, A publication pays upon publication. Now, it could be months before they publish the piece...but in the meantime, they don't pay the writer, but have yet to publish the work after three or so months. Is the pub considered a deadbeat in your view ONLY IF they publish the work and don't pay? Please advise. Roy …

How To Respond To Negative Rating?

Since I started writing for this site's clients, my rating has been at the highest level, as I treat each client's project with extreme care and respect, and give each one 100% effort. My problem involves the rating I was given by a first-time client from Europe who wanted an ebook written about her unique business. I estimated that the project would take about one month. After accepting the project, my client became ill and couldn't send the necessary material for me to begin working. Two weeks passed, and finally I received her material. I communicated regularly with her throughout this period and until I completed the project, incorporating her edits and comments. I also advised her that I would not meet the proposed deadline due to not receiving her material on time. You can imagine my surprise and shock when she wrote in my rating that I was late finishing the project. …

What Kind Of Rights Are These And How Much Should I Charge?

Dear Angela, I wrote a series of short articles for a national parenting website a couple of years ago. I was paid for first time use. Last week, an agency asked me for permission to use my articles as training resources for their prospective clients (as required by law in their state). They did not offer any payment. …

Whose Fault Is It That I Didn’t Get Paid?

Angela, this one has been bothering me for over three years. Now that I know more about how the writing game works, I am ready to confess my great shame. A few summers back, I had an idea for an article. I had never written for anything but my own journal and close friends, but I wanted to try my hand at writing and I wrote the article. I then phoned the local community paper and asked if they would be interested in a piece on "wee gardeners" about children helping with the family garden. They liked the idea and told me to email it to the newspaper. Well, I did just that, and it appeared in the following issue. A few weeks later I wrote another article about "crafts for Kids". I heard nothing back from them, yet that, too, appeared in the paper. …

Should I Send This Person A Copy Of My Driver’s License And Social Security Card?

I'm so thankful for your website and newsletter. I'm a beginning writer and have just received my first contract to ghostwrite for a website from a job listed in your newsletter and I'm so excited. But I'm uncomfortable with their request for me to send a copy of my driver's license and social security card. …

How To Submit Clips

I was wondering if you might address the proper protocol for submitting clips to editors. I am a new writer (just two published, paid articles) and I am not sure about the proper format for sending clips. I do not want to commit any copyright violations. When editors request clips, should I send my original Word document with the name of the magazine, when it appeared and contact info, or should I scan the article directly from the magazine and send a copy of that file? …

Small Claims or Police for Bad Checks?

Thanks for the great advice on collecting after getting bad checks. I'm working on a huge one ($1000+) and have just one question. The collection agency - who failed in their attempt to collect the debt - suggested filing in small claims court of the debtor's county (suburban Chicago while I'm in Atlanta). Have you ever had to resort to contacting the local police as you threatened in your note? Has it worked? Is that better than pursuing a small claim in the county? …

Yet Another Tale Of A Website Stealing Content From Another…

I have a website that I run. I once discovered that someone had reposted some of the Q&A from that site into their blog. Would that still be considered unauthorized use of work? If so, what should I do about it? …

How To Tell If A Check Is Bad?

Just read your story about the dangerous scam (targeting an author), and I am sure glad she was smart enough to see all the red flags. …

Writer Is A Flake

Once again I turn to you for advice, but this time it's about a writer I hired to help me with a big project. This is the third year I have done this big project for a client and the third time this guy has helped me. No written contract, but I thought he knew the drill. But no. …

Website Posted My Article Without Permission Or Payment

I googled myself the other day and discovered that a website posted my article on their website without my knowledge or consent. I contacted the (print) magazine I had written the article for and they have no knowledge of the website and are not affiliated with them. Should I send the website an email or a certified snail mail asking them for payment? And in what amount? …

Watch Out for Fake Book Reviewers

Can you please tell me or point me in the right directions to find "reputable" book reviewers? I have come across a couple and they don't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I think they are looking for free books. …

Consult With An Attorney Before Writing This Type Of Book

Hi Angela, I'm in the process of writing a non-fiction book that will also contain some very critical evaluations and personal stories. I've changed the names of the people in the stories (or not mentioned their name at all), but to people who know them, they're still recognizable. Many of the stories are anything but flattering, so getting permission from them is completely out of the question. …

Simultaneous Submissions

Angela--Many of us would love to know more about the ethics and practicality of simultaneous submissions, especially as they fly off to literary magazines and journals, many of which report they "reply," if you can call it that--in four-to-six months. Some are longer. Even many "B" markets that might actually pay enough to help a writer make a living indicate very long response times, even to queries. Many thanks, MM …

Press Release vs. Publicity Release

What is the difference between a press release and a publicity release? Is there information about this at the Booklocker site? Midwest Book Review would like me to include a publicity release and/or a media kit when I submit my book for review and I'm not sure how to proceed... …

Ripped Off For $2/Article?!

I took a writing job last week with a newer company that wasn't paying much, $2 an article, but to me every penny counts. That's a week's worth of school lunches for me. I'd searched the boards and found nothing negative, so I figured they were reliable. Anyway, I was assigned five articles on Saturday and understood they had to be turned in on Monday. Which was fine, I got them done in plenty of time. On Tuesday there was an email stating that the articles were no good. The client wanted to go in a different direction so now they wanted six or seven articles on each of the five topics. So this would have been 30 to 35 articles, and I didn't have time for that many. I told him so. His response was that I was turning down this assignment after agreeing to do it. My stance is that changing the assignment from 5 articles to 30 to 35 articles is not legit. It is an entirely different assignment. I turned it down and did not expect to get paid, though I can't say I'm happy about doing the work and then being told they were not good enough because they decided to go in a different direction. Overall, it's not worth the $10 to deal with him any longer. Last night, I searched Google and found that he had posted one of my articles on his website. I did post a comment about this at Freelancewriters and just stated that some should watch for that if they opt to write for him and what happened to me--that he'd posted the article without paying me and that I was awaiting his word on why he'd posted it and that I wanted it taken down. Half an hour ago, he sent me an email saying he posts all reviews to check for plagiarism. I checked and he has taken it down, so I posted so on the forums that he had taken the review down after I emailed him. His email took a slightly threatening tone saying that I had not made a wise move by posting about his company and that I reneged on doing the assignment, so it is all on my head, not his. My question in this case refers to line #1 of the contract to which he was referring to the assignment I'm sure. My stance is that since he changed the assignment, I had every right to refuse it. Now that he's sent a slightly threatening email, I'd like to make sure that I am right. I figure you might have the answer. …

When Your Editor Becomes Your Co-Author…Without Asking

I wrote a travel piece for an online website, which I had heard good things about. Although the pay was low, many postings about this site said they paid on time and that writers had no problem with the editor. I wrote an article for them about a ghost tour I took. My article appeared on the website at the beginning of October. But it wasn't really my article. I expected some editing - buried lead moved to front of story, etc. But they actually added paragraphs of detail that were not mine, including a location and ghost story that I neither visited nor heard. I would say about 50% of the story is actually mine. I have had editors make changes before. One of my editors even added a paragraph to my article, due to some last minute information I received. But I provided her with the information and she sent me back the manuscript to review and approve what she added. I am not sure what to do. I don't care at this point if I receive the $25. I am worried that I won't be able to resell this article with all the changes. And I haven't been using this as a clip; I don't want to explain why the clip is so different from my manuscript. …

Copy Tests

I heard through the grapevine that a major retail chain store here in my hometown was looking for a full time copywriter. I sent over my resume and writing samples to their inside ad agency. The creative director said that they would be sending over a little exercise "to see what their applicants could do with a pair of assignments that we might actually take on." With marketing in mind for two states (where they are planning on opening stores), for the "test," they want one :30 second grand opening TV spot and one :60 second radio spot. In addition, for another campaign, they want one :60 second radio spot targeted at teens. Sounds to me like a lot of work for free. I'm not going to do it. I don't need the work that much but want to reply in a dignified way. What are your thoughts? …

Should I Charge Or Not?

Recently I wrote a few articles on writing--for free, just for the fun of it--and put them on my site. The other day, two writing resources (small-time and non-paying but respectable) approached me and asked if they could reprint the articles. I was about to say yes, but then I wondered whether there might be any problems attached to it in the future. I don't mind them being reprinted for free but I'd hate to lose rights to them. My question is, should I actually offer them some rights, or jot down some sort of contract, or maybe do something else to prevent any damage to my rights? They're honest people but I'd rather be on the safe side. …

A Blog Hosted By Google Stole My Copyrighted Material!

I recently found an article of mine on a blog located at blogspot.com. The title was changed but the rest was verbatim, with no credit to me, the copyright holder, or the magazine it appeared in, and certainly no permission from me. (There were other articles from this same magazine on the site.) This "blogspot.com" seems to be powered or hosted by something called "Blogger," but I can't find a link anywhere on their site to complain about copyright infringement. On top of that, it appears the blogger makes money from advertising clicks. Have any suggestions how to stop this? …

They Didn’t Provide Me With Payment Details

Dumb question. I recently submitted an article to a magazine, and it was accepted. At least, they offered the measly sum of $15 via PayPal upon publication (date unspecified). Do I 1) send them a bill? 2) monitor their online mag for publication? 3) wait around and monitor my Paypal account since I gave them my Paypal email address? What is proper etiquette in this instance? …

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