Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Payment due

Ah, one of the downsides of being a working writer. You put in the work that you are under contract for and, come payday, dutifully send an invoice to your editor or client. You get ready to take on more work for that client, or you plan new article pitches to send to that editor, until everything comes to a screeching halt because said editor or client has an issue about paying you for your work. Or, they can’t possibly understand how in the world they owe you what your invoice says they owe you. You haven’t been working for them that long. Or doing that much work. But, oh, could you please do this extra work for me while we sort this silly “payment” business out?

Um, what?

Yes, the idea seems a little crazy. An editor or client expecting you to do more work for them while the money they owe you is still up in the air. But this is something I have had to deal with in the not-too-distant past.

And I have one firm policy in handling such a situation: No more work until what is owed is paid up.

Believe me, I’ve dealt with deadbeats in the past. I have had too many experiences of NOT being paid for my work to have anymore patience for more such experiences. As an attempt to avoid these situations, I made it a policy to NEVER work without a contract.

But a contract won’t keep away the nonpaying editors and clients. Which is why I have a second policy in force: All future work ceases until previous work has been paid for. I don’t care when your meeting is or when you have to have something out. The issue of payment for work performed must be resolved first.

Thankfully, I have not had to deal with a nonpaying editor or client recently. Just someone who took issue with how much was owed. And while that matter was being worked out, this particular person wanted me to do some MORE work. I made it clear that I would be happy to take on some more work, but only AFTER previous work was paid for.

Working writers and freelance editors need to do what they must in order to avoid the headaches of deadbeat editors and clients. And they must be firm with those people who see something wrong with an HONEST and AGREED-UPON fee that is the sum total of all previous work performed. Shying away from trouble and avoiding conflicts by relenting to a lower fee or forgetting about what is owed for an article only sets the writer or editor up for more of this kind of treatment. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of like that.

Be firm about getting paid for the work you have done. Remind the editor or client about the terms in the contract and state that all future work ceases until the matter is resolved. If they respect your work enough (and value their reputation as an editor or professional), they will be willing to honor the invoice and pay what is owed. But if not, then it’s time to move on.

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