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.

I’m not a new writer nor journalist by any means, but I am fairly new to freelance writing and navigating the ins and outs of this world. I’m working on a piece for (a health magazine). The editor and I agreed on the outline and deadline, which was the end of February. We’ve gone through one round of revisions already and I’m about to polish up another round of revisions. My problem is that when I asked when the article will be published (after having completed it), the editor said she intended it for their September/October issue. Is this common for an editor to accept a query, give a deadline within a month or so and then not publish until several months later? Is there a nice way I can ask the editor to pay before the article is published since the article was completed so soon before it was published? I might be totally off on this, but are there that many business relationships where the work is completed six months before a payment is made?

I look forward to your response.

Unfortunately, it is common for large publications to create an issue months in advance (though I never agree that writers should have to wait until that time to be paid). This just another reason to add a contingency clause to your future contracts.

If you try to get her to pay you earlier, after you’ve already agreed to her terms, she may get angry and not assign future articles to you. But, if you add the contingency clause to your future contracts, it will ensure you will get paid in the next few months, especially if they decide to shelf the article beyond that period. For an example of a contingency clause, click HERE.