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Thread: "Kill fee"

  1. #1
    Xavier Onassis

    "Kill fee"

    Can one of you published types cluestick me on this? I'm looking at freelance magazine articles and they reference a 20% "kill fee." What's that?


  2. #2
    Jeanne Gassman

    Re: "Kill fee"


    This term refers to nonfiction articles written "on spec." The author sends the magazine a query letter and pitches one or more article ideas. The editor contacts the author and says they're interested in a piece on idea A, but since the author is unknown (and/or inexperienced), the editor wants him to write the full article "on spec" and offers to pay XXX dollars for the completed piece--if it's satisfactory. At this point, the author is donating his time and research based on the hope that the piece will be good enough to sell.

    The author sends off the finished piece to the editor. If, for some reason, the editor decides NOT to use the article, he pays the author 20% of the original agreed-upon price. The author is then free to market the story elsewhere.

    As you can see, kill fees are good and bad. They are less than what you would make for the sale of the piece, but can be lucrative if you receive a kill fee from one place and then turn around and sell the full story to someone else.


  3. #3
    Xavier Onassis

    Re: "Kill fee"

    Jeanne, you're a veritable encyclopedia of good writing information. Thanks again.


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