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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    What's the state of short nonfiction? Are these experiences the norm?

    First off, this is my first post here. This appears to be the best place for this kind of question, but if itís notÖbe gentle :-) Second, Iím going to try to keep this short, while still providing the necessary information to understand why Iím asking what Iím asking.

    Over the course of about two dozen published short nonfic works, Iíve had these experiences:
    1) A game publisher in Texas, after asking me to write two pieces and agreeing to payment, published the pieces and then told me that they would not make good on payment. After trying to solve the problem, I took the issue public, at which point they said (publicly) that they had never offered payment. Privately, they said that I could sue them, but Iíd lose money in the process, so it wasnít worth my effort.
    2) A niche book publisher in Texas published a chapter I had submitted and just kind ofÖdisappeared. I managed to track them down, and they told me that paying me was low on their list.
    3) An editor of a national magazine gave me an assignment, and when I submitted the assigned piece refused to respond, by e-mail, snail mail, or phone.
    4) An editor of a national magazine agreed to payment for a piece and then paid me roughly half. I contacted him twice, and twice heís said (basically) ďohÖuhÖIíll, uh, look into that.Ē

    So my question is, is this just the state of short nonfic publishing? Whenever the money is relatively low, are editors free to do as they wish, knowing that pursuing recourse through the legal system will cost more than payment? Considering the number of times Iíve had this happen, is this common behavior nowadays?



  2. #2
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    My goodness. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me five or six times, shame on the industry as a whole. I myself haven't run into anything like that (I've only self-published to date) but I've heard many such tales. I suspect the particular genre you're involved in may be exposed much more often to this type of fraud, since the dollar amounts are so small relative to regular fiction publishing, so that (a) the lying bastards are trying to eke out every dime they can and (b) it's not economical for the hapless authors to sue them.

    I don't know what to advise, except caveat emptor and check out the publishers as much as you can beforehand. Sites like Writers Beware may be of help, but any comments that you can dig up through the magical power of the Internet may be enough to warn you off the most egregious offenders. And get everything in writing before you commit to anything.

    Good luck, and keep writing!

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Thanks for the response. Quick addition to my info; the four situations I described relate to three different markets, so I don't think it's a market issue.

    Definitely not going to give up writing, but I'll switch to other modes. I'm putting far too much effort into this, and far too often I'm not even getting a hearty handshake.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Here are links to sites you might find helpful:

    <http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=212041>
    <www.pw.org>

    Remember, everything you see on the internet must be verified. Sorry for your misfortune. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    I was a freelance writer. I had a little boilerplate contract that described the writing job, the cost, an estimate of completion, and that payment was due upon delivery. The client signed a contract, or I didn't work. Or sometimes it worked the other way - the client had the contract that I signed, and it detailed the job and the amount and time of payment, and sometimes other conditions or stipulations. If I didn't like the contract, I walked.

    The only way a client can get away with saying he didn't promise payment is if you have nothing in writing. If that's the case, then good lesson you learned...over and over it sounds like, lol.

    The way I look at it is as long as they put your name to your work, it's not a total loss. They published you, and now you know never to deal with those deadbeats again and to warn others about them. There's a lot of "win" in that, despite the loss of pay.

    Unless you have something in writing, it's not really worth pursuing. I always think a few tens or even hundreds of dollars is not all that costly to learn a man's true character, and I typically think of these kind of things as ultimately a benefit to me and my friends. We can all use help navigating the potholes.

    But if you have a contract, take them to small claims, and you can make them pay you AND the court costs. They still may not pay, but at least you have a legal nettle to wield.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 02-04-2014 at 05:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChallengerHK View Post
    Thanks for the response. Quick addition to my info; the four situations I described relate to three different markets, so I don't think it's a market issue.

    Definitely not going to give up writing, but I'll switch to other modes. I'm putting far too much effort into this, and far too often I'm not even getting a hearty handshake.
    Yes I am sure that you have put a lot into your writing. So glad that these instances have not made you want to give up on it.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    That thread was only about 3 weeks old, so I guess you're doing better now. lol

  8. #8
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    Bad luck
    That certainly doesn't sound like my experience. I have encountered ones where there is no signed contract until they decide to publish but they don't publish without it.

    I have noticed that non-fiction doesn't fly off the shelves the way fiction does though.

  9. #9
    Rogue Mutt
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    Why don't newbies just start a new topic instead of responding to ones that are months/years old? Makes no sense to me.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    Well, I am sorry. It looked like an active thread; two posts in the preceding couple of days and another a couple of weeks before that. Also there were not very many other recent threads in Non-Fiction that I felt able/willing to comment upon.
    In other discussion groups I am a member of it is considered bad form to start a new topic when something similar already exists. Long-standing members tend to jump up and down and request they be merged by mods!

    I will indeed create new topics as and when something that seems worth it comes up.

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