Pay-on-publication markets

By Katharine Swan On Saturday, June 14, 2008 At 6:05 PM

I just recently read and reviewed Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon's Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and More. I found the book's hardline approach against pay-on-publication markets quite interesting. The author writes:

These publications can hold your work for years. You may never be paid... Pay on publication is a scheme in which publishers are stealing from you. They are keeping you from eating or paying your bills. You cannot sell the piece elsewhere while they are holding it, especially if they bought First North American Serial Rights.

Interestingly, I have seen markets recently that are even worse than pay-on-publication: They state that they pay within 4-6 months of publication. Can you imagine seeing your piece in print, and then waiting another half a year to get paid for it? With a 6-18 month lead time that most publishers fall into, this could mean that you could be getting paid fully two years after doing the work!

That rant aside, I actually don't advise that writers avoid these markets entirely. Most magazines pay on publication, so eliminating these markets means that you are giving up one of the most common goals for a writer: to get published in a magazine. Personally, I think a mix is the best — about 75 percent of my work is paid on acceptance, and the other 25 percent is for publications that pay on publication.

Finally, there is something you can do to avoid being at the mercy of your editors. Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly.com recommends adding a clause to writers contracts, so that you get paid on publication OR by a specific date, whichever comes first. This ensures that even if the publication decides at the last minute to ditch your piece, you'll still get paid for your work!

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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