So, for example, if you look in Writer’s Market, you might see that a magazine pays 10 to 20 cents a word for a feature article of 1,000 words. This probably means that newer writers get 10 cents and, as you work your way up their ladder, you can get an increase up to 20 cents a word. Or, if you’re a writer with stellar published clips, you might reasonably expect the top of the rate range from the start.
In that case, you’ll have to decide if $100-200 is worth your time and effort to write an article for that magazine. How much time will it take? Will you have unreimbursed expenses?
Or, the magazine may pay a flat rate, perhaps $100 for an 800-word piece. In that instance, you’ll need to estimate how long the article might take to write. If it’s four hours, is $25 an hour an acceptable rate for you?
How to negotiate
The reality is that magazine editors usually have some flexibility in negotiating contracts and rates, but they, in turn, answer to the publisher. There are definite limits as to how far an editor can go - or will want to go, with a particular writer.
It’s perfectly reasonable, however, and good business practice, to discuss financial issues and concerns with an editor. Calmly point out why you feel you should receive more money. Acceptable reasons include:
- I’ve produced quality material for you in past issues and my articles have required little editing.
- My clips prove that I am a seasoned professional.
- This upcoming assignment will require extensive research.
- This editor is pleasant and we have a good working relationship.
- The quality of the publication is top rate and it affords me good clips.
- This magazine is a stepping-stone in the direction I’d like my writing to take.
The editor-writer relationship is an intriguing symbiosis, one that evolves over time. Enjoy those times when your goals mesh, resolve inevitable conflicts in a professional manner and always remain true to your own personal writing missions.
I look forward to bringing you nonfiction news that will help you with your own writing. Feel free to ask me whatever questions you have, either in the comments of the blog post itself or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about my writing, editing and teaching experience at LinkedIn. If you want to connect, use the email@example.com address and reference this blog.