Writing for publication can have its drawbacks. For beginning writers, just getting published is enough. But for professional writers–those of us you need to get paid for our writing–when and if we get paid becomes a continual concern.
Professional writers’ associations like the prestigious American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) continually say writers should get paid on acceptance. That means getting paid the moment an editor accepts an article or short story. Well, that’s easy for them to say.
In today’s madcap word of publishing, fewer and fewer publishers of periodicals are paying their writers on acceptance. They want to keep their money as long as they can, and so do their advertisers, who are paying their bills later and later. So what is a writer to do?
First, find out beforehand when the publication pays its writers. You can easily find this in such directories as Writer’s Market, published by Writer’s Digest Books. If you don’t see the publication you’re interested in within its pages, then call the editor and ask. Too many magazines, for instance, want your story months ahead of time, but don’t pay for perhaps a year later. You can’t wait a whole year to shop at the supermarket!
Many publications pay on publication–or more to the point, perhaps 30-60 days after publication. If you’re expecting immediate payment as soon as your piece is published, don’t bet on it. This has become more the norm than not.
The argument ASJA makes is that payment on publication may mean never. What they mean by this is that the publication may close up shop before you get your money. Unfortunately, in today’s economy, that’s the risk you have to take. Otherwise, go get a job at McDonald’s.
In order to write and publish and still get by, you need to work on a number of projects. Always have something in the works. Sending an article or story off every so often will make sure that the payments also come in every so often.