At WritersWeekly.com, we create market listings by sending out a questionnaire, using the publisher’s emailed answers to create the listing, and then sending the listing to the publisher for approval. We then publish the listing in The Write Markets Report and later in the paying markets area of WritersWeekly.com.
While most publishers are respectable and provide us with accurate information, some, usually the small or new ones, are so desperate for publicity that they lie on their questionnaires. And, we only learn of these lies later when a reader complains that our information is inaccurate. When this happens, we send the reader copies of the publisher’s response to the questionnaire and also the publisher’s approval email sent in response to the final market listing that was created for publication. This clears us and shows the reader that the publisher is a snake and that he/she used WritersWeekly simply to drive traffic to their site or to try to lure good writers to a bad publication.
Then there are the publications that claim they pay, and pay well, but actually don’t pay at all.
When one of these things happens, we investigate (contact the publisher) to determine what happened. If they admit what they did, or fail to respond, or if we simply don’t believe their excuses, we remove the market listing and blacklist them. Basically, if they’d tried to fool our readers, they will never get another mention in WritersWeekly.com
Here are some other tricks publishers use to lure good writers to bad publications:
Paying a fraction of a cent per word, while making it look like they pay whole cents per word (i.e. .2 cents per word instead of $.02/word). Yes, that means they pay one-fifth of a cent per word.
Claiming they pay a “flat fee” per article, but never telling anyone what that flat fee is until the contract is about to be signed (or, if there isn’t a contract, only after the writer has already started or even finished the article).
Promising “national exposure” when they’re a brand new publication or when they’re simply a small, new website.
Claiming they only ask for first rights but then slipping an “all rights” clause into their contract.
Only asking for print rights, but then putting the article on their website as well (and sometimes even putting it on more than one website!).
In response to your query, asking for the submission of a complete manuscript, implying they’re ordering the article ( but they then tell you there was never a contract so you’ve wasted your time).
Offering a specific payment amount, but then cutting that amount significantly, claiming the piece needed too much editing.
In all of these cases, having a contract in place will save the writer from getting scammed. And, the contract must include specific information with regards to rights being purchased, payment amount, when payment will be made, and the latest date the piece will be published (so the publisher can’t sit on the article for years).
There are numerous freelance contract templates online. However, none of them appear to protect writers from some of these common scams. Therefore, we have our attorney working on a freelancer writer’s contract template that will protect writers from some of the common tricks used by bad publishers. We’ll publish it in WritersWeekly as soon as it’s finished.
In the meantime, remember to NEVER write without a contract!