Friday, December 01, 2006

$ For Words

At the risk of screwing myself out of ever being published in Family Circle Magazine again, I’m going to rant regarding one of their practices. Heck, I wasn’t paid for the piece that was published, anyway.

Last year I submitted an article to Family Circle that was rejected. (Boo hoo, c’est la vie, suck it up, etc.) As a result of my submission, they now have my e-mail address on file. A few months later I received an e-mail from someone-who-shall-remain-nameless. The subject — “Share Your Mother’s Day Memories with Family Circle.” (“We want to hear about your most special Mother’s Day memory. It could be the time your kids first made you breakfast in bed…Whatever the story, tell us the details.”)

Hmm. Why not? Maybe they liked my writing style. (Maybe I was a naïve babe-in-the-woods thinking the request had anything to do with me personally.) I submitted my “story” and it was selected to appear on the Editor’s page. I received this news via phone. I also found out via that phone call that no money was going to change hands. Oh, well. My piece had been chosen. A bit of an ego stroke.

I have since received three similar requests — none of which I’ve responded to. The latest came this week requesting tips about walking. Now, I have lots to say about the benefits of walking (my back thing) but I’m not going to.

And why not? Drum roll, please…

Well, I removed my dunce cap and put on my thinking cap. If Family Circle is soliciting work to be published in their magazine, obviously they feel such work adds to their magazine. They like personal stories to appear on the Editor’s page. And, so, why don’t they pay writers for this kind of work? We’re not talking stories with a word count of 1000 — more like 250. Surely they could cough up with a flat $25.00 bucks (10 cents a word). Or, hey, they could go through the unsolicited emails they receive and use those. But if they happen to want a specific topic covered to correspond with a particular issue and must solicit in order to get it, pay for it.

Personally, I’m past the point where seeing my work in print — with no remuneration — is a thrill. I no longer consider an “e-mail” of mine on the Editor’s page an honour. In fact, I think it’s kind of a rip-off. You want to see my work? You like my work? You’re going to publish it? Then pay me for it. There are many writers who would be happy to be chosen and wouldn’t care about $$. I’m no longer one of them.

BTW, many magazines actually do pay for your opinions, feedback, touching personal stories, etc. To be fair, I should mention that Family Circle will pay $50.00 for a household tip that runs less than 50 words. (But nothing for that solicited work of 250 words? Oops, here I go again.)

Hey, some magazines will even pay for a submission of a cute picture of your pet.

Hey, Major! About that picture of you with your fake toy teeth I used in another post…


patricia said...

Good for you. Ya gotta draw the line somewhere. The stories I could tell you about people approaching me wanting me to illustrate something for them for nuthin', their rationale being that I will gain so much from the 'exposure'. Yeah, well you can die from exposure, buddy. The only time I contribute for free is if it's a cause or a struggling publication I believe in. But Family Circle? Give me a break. That's just blatant greed and a complete lack of respect for the freelance industry.

Another reason to refuse to do this kind of spec work is that it does a disservice to the freelance industry as a whole, since editors will develop the attitude, "Why the hell should I pay you when I know I can get it for free?"

Oy, don't get me started...well, I guess I already did start, didn't I? Heh. You hit a really sensitive spot with me!

Trish said...

That's just wrong wrong wrong...

A publication should pay for everything it prints because the consumer pays for the whole magazine not just certain articles.

Beth said...

Patricia - I really did hit a nerve with you, didn't I? And you mentioned the words "Family Circle" in your comment. We're both goin' being published there for us - no $$ from them - ever. (Of course, they'd have to find my humble blog first.)

Trish - I like your emphasis on the word wrong - 'cause it is wrong. Thanks for the support.