Many publishers, like other businesses, are facing financial difficulties. I came across an interesting situation that I thought was worth some discussion.
The dilemma: what would you do if a magazine published your story and then said they had no money to pay you?
This happened to one writer, as described in a letter published in a recent Funds for Writers newsletter. The company, which publishes several children's magazines, shall remain nameless.
The writer was told after her story was published that the magazine was having some financial problems and had no money to pay her. Would you accept that?
My take: sorry, but the publisher is a business. If they chose to publish a writer's work, that writer should expect to be paid as the guidelines state and not have the editors suddenly say, gee, sorry, we can't pay you.
The editors likely knew the financial situation before they chose to publish the writer's work. Ethically, the editors could have been honest and told the writer upfront, giving her the option to pull her work or let it be printed gratis. They didn't do that. But even if they didn't know about the budget problems until later, unless the publisher is legally bankrupt, the writer is still owed.
Angela Hoy with Booklocker.com also recently addressed this same issue of nonpayment in one of her newsletters. Her point was that you can be sure other staff and bills were getting paid. I'd ask the editor if he/she got a check that week. (You bet they did). Did the printer and other vendors get paid? Were the lights and cable still on?
Writers shouldn't let themselves get pushed to the bottom of the pack. If a publisher is still doing business, they are paying their bills (or at least some of them).
Unless writers choose to write for free, they should be paid for their work, just like anyone else. And they should keep asking - via emails, certified letters, etc. - until they get that check.
** What do you think?