I am a freelance writer, but currently a starving one. I have outstanding invoices in the amount of about $1000—do I have any recourse regarding getting them paid, or have I just been “stiffed?”
Thanks for any help you can give me,
Drat. I hate stories like this.
You don’t tell me what kind of writing you’ve not been paid for, and that does make a difference.
You also don’t tell me what your invoicing procedure is – that is, when do you invoice and how do you follow through?
Start with Whispers and Warnings at Writer’s Weekly. See if there or on their forum you can ferret out any information about the organization or individual that’s stiffing you.
Nest, if it’s a business you can locate, the first step is to telephone and ask for the accounts payable department. If they don’t have one, ask for the bookkeeper. Your goal is to make sure they actually got your invoice – it’s absolutely amazing how many times invoices get stuck on an editor’s desk. Tell whoever you talk with that your invoice is XX days late and you wanted to check with them about payment before you add a late fee.
Once you’ve made that statement, shut up until the person you’re talking with speaks; that will tell you a great deal about your next step.
Alternatively, you can call the editor or person who hired you and ask when you’re going to get paid. Again, ask the question, then don’t say another word until they speak.
You may be able to hire a collector – but be warned, you will only get 50% or less if they are successful. But it’s your right to try and collect.
Small Claims court is another possibility, particularly if you and the person who owes you are in the same state and it’s only one person who owed you the grand.
Finally, you can file a complaint with Whispers and Warnings – if they take your case they may be able to get you paid, at least in part.
Now, next time get paid at least 50% up front before you do any work. If you hang out here you’ll find most of us charge up front in this manner, and charge late fees. This may just be an expensive lession.
Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
How do you collect past-due invoices?
Write well and often,
Image from http://www.sxc.hu
If you can’t find a phone number send the invoice with at least a 10% late charege, return receipt requested. That way you’ll know who, if anyone, gets the invoice.