There were several ideas I was going to draw upon for today's blog, but that all changed at last minute, following something that happened today. I got paid. Yippee!
I'd encourage you to read Alex Gazzola's post on his Mistakes Writers Make blog about the mistake in not chasing your dues. As a freelance writer, you are a 'business' and it's sad to say that most businesses experience late payers from time to time. I've only completely missed out on being paid once, when a magazine went bust and my name was added to the long list of creditors who have to take their place behind the taxman, who basically takes pretty much everything of whatever is left! But, occasionally, I do come across a late payer from time to time.
Indeed, on Alex's post, I'd commented that I was chasing some £800 of late payments from 3 magazines, £300 of which had been outstanding since the middle of November. I'm delighted to say that I've now successfully extracted payment from all of my late payers, the last one being the £300 due from November.
I only achieved this, with a little help from a writers' organisation called the OWPG - the Outdoor Writers' and Photographer's Guild. Membership of the organisation includes access to a forum where members can share news, information, leads and advice, so I decided to post about the problems I was having with a publication that I knew other Guild members wrote for. I didn't go ranting and raving about the magazine, or calling the editor something immensely rude - I simply stuck to the facts. I told members that I was due the £300 in mid November, that I'd sent an invoice, followed by a statement of account after 30 days and 60 days, that my emails and phone calls had gone unanswered and I was one step away from threatening legal action with my 90-day statement of account. I then ended my forum post by stating that other Guild members may wish to bear in mind my experience, should they decide to pitch any ideas to the editor.
Some members did post replies, stating that they'd too had problems, but finally extracted payment after threatening legal action. I was fortunate in that one of the Guild's members happened to have a meeting with the editor today and so he brought up my outstanding payment on my behalf. Later on in the day, another Guild member and regular contributor to the magazine happened to be talking to the editor and mentioned my payment problem. (I'm sure the editor isn't keen on employing my services again now, although, to be honest, after an experience like this, I'm less inclined to pitch any further ideas to him.)
Hours later, I received an email from the editor apologising for the delay and the money was sitting in my bank account.
Being a member of the OWPG clearly helped me get paid, so if your writing takes off, I would encourage you to consider joining an appropriate organisation. There are several out there, depending upon your writing specialism. Sometimes their membership fees look a little steep, but they come into their own when they can help you out of a little difficulty.
Useful writers' organisations include:
- The Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild
- The Society of Authors
- The National union of Journalists
- The British Guild of Travel Writers
- The British Guild of Beer Writers (no, I'm not making this one up!)
- Bureau of Freelance Photographers
- Circle of Wine Writers (hmmm, there seems to be a trend here!)
- Crime Writers' Association
- The Garden Media Guild
- Guild of Agricultural Journalists
- Guild of Health Writers
- Guild of Motoring Writers (This sounds like a guild of writers who write whilst driving, although I'm sure it isn't.)
- Medical Journalists' Association
- Romantic Novelists' Association
- Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
- Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain
In an occupation that can feel lonely during difficult times, it's nice to know that you have friends you can call upon.