July 24, 2014

When Pubs Don’t Pay

In theory, freelance writing is a simple process. Send a query. Get an assignment. Turn in article. Collect payment. Listen to friends who marvel that “if I earned a $1/word, I’d be rich!” Rinse, wash, and repeat.

Well, unfortunately, things are seldom that smooth.

Articles get killed. Invoices mysteriously disappear. Editors leave. Sometimes publications fold. It seems like there is a new thread on the writer’s forum I frequent every other day announcing the demise of another magazine or newspaper. Today it was Cottage Living. Several weeks ago it was The Christian Science Monitor (which will focus on web content instead of completely disappeaing, and don’t worry, I got paid promptly).

Two years ago, a local publication I wrote for closed up shop. They did not officially file for bankruptcy, but I never got paid for my last article because the editor said she had cash flow problems. It was a small amount of money, so I just shrugged and move on. But it does concern me that, given the current economic client, it could happen on a grander scale now. Heck, even the New York Times is feeling the crunch! I’m certainly more skeptical of unknown magazines or websites than I was a year ago. Should you find yourself singing the bankruptcy blues, Erik Sherman has some sage advice on dealing with bankrupt clients.

Have you ever dealt with a bankrupt client? Are you finding that publications are dragging their feet on paying invoices? What’s your strategy? Let me know!

Flickr photo courtesy of Daniel Y. Go