You write an article for an editor – after agreeing on a fee – and the editor leaves the magazine. How do you get paid for that article?
Here’s what one blogger says:
“I was commissioned to write two articles by a publishing company for their new magazine, which is launching this month. After agreeing on a price, researching the articles, doing the work and sending it over to them, the editor then informed me she was leaving and to follow up with the new editor. I have now been chasing up this work for several months, with no results. I am thinking my next step is to just invoice the company. It is criminal that they can commission me this work which took me time, effort and money then just disappear. What would you say the best course of action is? Create my own invoice and send it to them? I’m not a professional writer, I was a blogger who accepted these writing commissions after being contacted by the editor.”
The first thing to remember is that publishing companies are businesses. And, editors are not managers, accountants, or sometimes even the decision makers in their own department.
Here are a few more tips for getting paid for a commissioned article after the editor leaves the building…
Remember that this is normal in the publishing world
When editors move from job to job, they often bring their own stable of writers with them. They know the freelancers they’ve worked with in the past, and almost nobody likes change. Especially when their reputations are at stake.
Further, remember what it’s like in a new job! You’re learning the ropes, discovering boundaries, learning people’s names, figuring out what you can get away with. When you’re new, you generally don’t try to get away with much. I suspect this new editor is really busy in the new position, and his or her lack of response is due to being overwhelmed.
Contact the company on social media
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If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, use those tools to contact the editor or the marketing department of the company. Publicly tweet or post on their Facebook timeline, asking what your next steps should be.
In my experience, companies and institutions are VERY agreeable when it comes to public tweets and Facebook messages. They tend to respond quickly and positively.
Dig up your emails from the original editor
Where’s the proof that the editor hired you to write the articles? That’s probably the most important piece. Find the emails that state your agreement, fee, article topics, date due, and word length.
If you haven’t kept or can’t find that original email, don’t worry! It’ll be easier to get paid if you have it, but you might be able to slide through without it.
Also, keep your emails to this current editor.
Create an invoice
It’s super duper easy to make an invoice! Use the standard form on Word or even from the internet. Make sure you include my “must haves” on a freelance writer’s invoice.
On your invoice, include the info that you and the original editor agreed on when he or she commissioned you to write the article. You don’t have to send the original email to the company (yet).
Send the invoice to the accounting department
Since this new editor hasn’t responded, I’d send the invoice directly to the accounting department. I’d also cc the new editor. Give them 60 days to pay you. I know it seems like forever, but it takes big companies forever to move!
You may want to follow up with a phone call or email a week or two after you email your invoice. Confirm that they received it. Always be polite, right? Don’t make them mad at you – but be firm and assertive.
Consider pitching your articles to a different magazine
When you get paid for your articles, confirm in writing if the magazine will publish them. If not, tell them you want to retain copyright. Then, pitch your articles to other magazines, publishers, e-zines, websites, or blogs! Why not reuse your work? There’s nothing wrong with getting paid twice.
If you don’t get paid for these articles, then you’re free to pitch away.
If you try to re-sell your articles, make sure you tell the editor of the magazine that didn’t pay you. It doesn’t matter if he or she responds: just send an email saying that if you don’t hear back from him or her in 30 days, you will retain copyright of your articles and pitch them elsewhere.
What do you think, fellow scribes? Any tips for a blogger who hasn’t gotten paid for an article after the editor leaves the magazine?
If negotiating or asking for money makes you squeamish, read How to Ask for More Money – Tips for Freelance Writers.