As writers, we tend to be polite. We do not like to pick fights or burn bridges or ruin contacts that we may need in the future. If we feel that we have been hard done by, it is all too easy to just let it go in order to keep everyone sweet. But we work hard for our writing, and we need to fight for our worth.
After I wrote a personal essay for a publication that I later found out was not being published, I scouted out new markets for it. I discovered a subscription-based website that I thought would be suitable. I noticed that some of its content was available to read online, and some was subscription-only. I assumed that the free content had not paid for by the website’s editor (such as reprints), and the subscription-only content had been paid for. I sent off my essay and received an acceptance the next day. Great, I thought, and sent off a bio and photo for the contributors’ page. A few weeks later my essay went up, and I noticed that it was a subscription-only piece. I couldn’t even read it without paying! Yet no word had been said about my payment. I sent the editor a polite email, asking about payment; she responded that payment was only for commissioned work. I mentioned that as people had to pay to read the essay, I should be paid for writing it. The editor then offered me $100, which I accepted. I have since placed several more commissioned pieces on the site, each of which earned me another $100. By remaining polite and professional, I got paid for my work but did not burn any bridges.
Always know your worth. Know how much time and effort you put into your work, and be confident that you deserve to be compensated for that. Always act like a professional writer, and that is how you will be treated.
Kirsty Logan is a writer, editor, reviewer, and teacher. She is the founder and editor of fiction magazine Fractured West and the reviews editor of PANK. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Visit her at http://kirstylogan.com.
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