A Quick Check Online Could Mean A Check In Your Mailbox By Martha Miller

Seeing my name in print gives me a boost to keep writing and to keep pitching. On a whim, several months ago, I Googled my own name along with the words “Rome” and “Italy” to see if anything I had written was still online. I lived in Rome for two years and most of my published work has come from that experience. When two unsold entries popped up in two different publications, I was shocked, then furious. My work had been stolen!

According to my query record, I had submitted one of the pieces almost a year prior. Never having received any acknowledgement, I had forgotten about it. The other article was posted by a publication I had never even heard of, without my knowledge and of course without payment.

Remembering I had seen an article on the subject of protecting writers’ work some time ago on WritersWeekly.com, I quickly was able to locate How to Deal with Online Media Pirates by Alicia Karen Elkins. Elkins thoroughly outlines the steps necessary to rectify these exact situations so I wasted no time in following her advice.

First, I carefully crafted short, polite, yet firm e-mails to each editor. Then I waited until the next day to send them, not wanting to act rashly and regret anything I would say while my temper was still hot.

In the first instance, I gave the editor the benefit of the doubt by suggesting this must have been an oversight and that I knew he would rectify the situation quickly. I stated the date I had sent the query and my asking price, which was double what he normally pays for pieces of this length. I received a quick response with an apology and the assurance that a check would be forthcoming. It arrived within two weeks.

For the other editor, I asked for the original price that was paid for the piece. Normally, I have sold reprint rights for much less. I probably could have asked for more, but I wanted this settled swiftly and thought the price was fair. The first response to my e-mail was polite but puzzling – asking me to send the URL in question. I thought it was strange but I complied. Her next response was completely unacceptable, admitting they did reprint my work without permission and adding, “This is pretty common practice among reputable Internet sites