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When Do I Ask For Payment? Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Hi Anne,

I sold an article to a trade magazine. They’ve already published it but I haven’t been paid yet. How do I ask for payment without seeming tacky?


Hi CS,

What’s tacky about asking for payment?

Seriously, there’s nothing tacky or otherwise wrong or in poor taste about getting paid, and that includes asking for payment due. The magazine contracted with you to write an article for $xx. Obviously they like your work or it wouldn’t have been published. If anything, it’s the magazine that’s being tacky by not paying you promptly. (By the way, timing on payment is one of those things you can sometimes negotiate up front. At least ask about it.) That said, here are my two favorite approaches:

  • I make a telephone call to the editor and ask when I can expect payment. Or, if I’m feeling less aggressive, I’ll ask where to send the invoice. In either case, I’ll keep it light because a conversation with an editor properly handled often ends up in an additional assignment or two. You know, I’ll get an answer to my question and then ask something like “What else is going on? What can I write for you now?”
  • I’ll send an invoice. Sometimes I’ll send it to the editor, but I think it makes more sense to send it to the accounting department. You can either just address it that way, or call and ask the receptionist about it.

We deserve to get paid for our work, and often we have to take action to make sure we collect.

You may also want to read: Handling Slow and No-Pay Clients

Write well and often,

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Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • I think the phone call would be ten times as effective as an invoice. People who call tend to keep calling; the editor will factor this into his thinking and try to get rid of you as quickly as possible, if he has any cash at all. It’s too easy to blow off a letter by tossing it.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Watcher in the Night =-.

    • Anne

      Agreed – although I’ve got one client that is impossible to reach by phone. I’m sure her kids can, but I”m not on that list. So an email to her cc’d to her assistant usually gets me an answer.

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