When a Publisher Gets Behind, the Squeaky Wheel Gets Paid First

Hi Angela,

A local publication owes me $325 and change for several stories of mine it published in October and November (originally scheduled for September, but they cancelled that issue). Over the past six weeks I’ve received probably a half-dozen promises that payment was forthcoming (“at the end of the week”, “next week”, “overnight by Friday”, etc.). Finally, after much frustrated follow-up, I received an e-mail from the publisher saying that advertising has been slow (which I knew), he is owed a lot of money by advertisers, he hasn’t taken payment himself in three months and he hopes things will be better after the new year.

I’m sympathetic, but this doesn’t change the fact that I’m owed money for work I did at his request more than three months ago – and a portion of what I’m owed is even repayment for an expense I incurred at his request.

Do you have any tips for squeezing blood out of a turnip, as it were? What is my recourse? Is there any binding way for me to make sure that when money does come in to him, he pays me before he pays expenses for a next issue?



First, I doubt his story that he hasn’t taken “any payment” in three months. Is he also not paying his electric bill, his Internet access bill, his phone bill, etc.? You can bet whatever income he has coming in is paying for those items (why them instead of you?!) and you deserve to be paid just as much as every other company that has/is supporting his business.

My tip is this: The squeaky wheel gets paid first. I see it time and time again. If you’re threatening exposure or legal action, he’s going to pay you first, rather than another person who isn’t being so strong about their rights.

Please read More Than One Way to Expose a Deadbeat here: