You Ask, We Answer: Help! I got an assignment and the editor didn’t mention how much they pay.
“The editor asked me to write up this piece and gave me a deadline, but he didn’t mention pay or rights. When will he tell me?”
Even worse, sometimes I hear:
“I wrote up my article for the editor. How do I know how much he’s going to pay me, and when?”
I don’t know why editors do this to writers. They know we need to know how much and when we’re going to get paid. And yet, many of them will ask me if I want to do an assignment without letting me know how much I’ll get paid.
How much I can expect to earn is of intense interest to me, and plays a huge role in deciding whether or not I’ll take the assignment.
So what can you do when an editor plays coy?
Don’t be afraid to be up-front. If an editor asks me If I’d like to write a 1,200-word article on X, due on Y, I write back, “Thanks so much for thinking of me! Can you let me know how much the assignment will pay?”
I do the same thing when the editor doesn’t mention a contract. “I’m excited to work on this assignment for you! Will you need my mailing address for the contract, or will you be e-mailing it to me?” That’s my passive-aggressive way of saying, “You will send me a contract, right?”
Will the editor get mad and take away the assignment?
Many new writers are so awe-struck when they hear from an editor that they accept assignments without knowing the terms — and they’re afraid that if they ask, the editor will yank the assignment away while emitting an evil laugh.
Trust me: It never happens. What always happens is that the editor says, “We pay $500 on acceptance” or “We pay $1 per word on publication.” (Or, if the editor is one of those who hopes you’ll accept the assignment without asking, the answer is often, “We can’t afford to pay our freelancers, but you’ll get great exposure.”)
How about you? Do you often find that editors give you an assignment without including this vital information? Have you ever accepted without knowing what you’d be paid — or have you ever spoken up and asked? Let us know in the Comments below!
If you liked that post, you might also like:
- You Ask, I Answer: What Do I Do When an Editor Goes AWOL After I Turn in an Assignment?
- 5 Assignment Terms You Can Negotiate With Your Editor
- How to Find Out Everything You Want to Know from an Editor
- You Ask, I Answer: Should I Write on Spec?
- You Ask, I Answer: Can I Send Similar Ideas to Different Magazines?