Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The four worst things a writer can hear

Freelance writer David Hayes, wrote an entry in the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv called  Four Worst Things a Writer Can Hear. Here they are, slightly edited:
  • PAY ON PUBLICATION: Articles get bumped to future issues for all kinds of reasons (the mix worked better by moving your piece to a future issue; fewer ads than expected shrunk space in the issue your piece was scheduled) that have nothing to do with the quality of the writer’s work. Yet the writer is kept waiting. And try telling the bank (mortgage or personal loan), landlord or credit card company that your payment has been delayed so you’ll be paying your bill later. 
  • EXPOSURE: As in, “We don’t pay, but we can provide you with valuable exposure.” Here’s a simple test: who wrote the cover stories in last month’s Reader’s Digest, The Walrus, Toronto Life & Maclean’s? Can you come up with more than one name? And we’re in the business. 
  • ON SPEC: If you’ve written a detailed, well-researched & well-written query, why isn’t that more than enough evidence that you can write the story?
  • ALL RIGHTS: (Or some variation on this wording.) On its web site, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) is succinct on the subject: “If publishers want additional rights beyond first print rights -- exclusive or non-exclusive -- they should pay for them. If publishers want "all rights," they should pay a substantial premium or be willing to share with the author any additional income they get from sublicensing.” That’s the position held by PWAC, the CFU, Derek Finkle’s Canadian Writers Group & smart writers everywhere. That’s not the position held by most media organizations, large & small. It’s probably the main ongoing source of stress for us all.  
One other member of the list added the phrase "It's good, but..."

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