Erik Sherman's WriterBiz

A spot about the business of writing as seen by a freelance writer. That includes marketing, sales, contracts, copyright, planning, research - in short, the business end of writing.

Name: Erik Sherman
Location: Massachusetts, United States

I'm an independent writer and photographer who covers business, food, technology, books, media, general features, and pretty much anything appealing that results in a signed check. My work has appeared in such places as the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Newsweek Japan, Fortune, Inc, Fortune Small Business, the Financial Times, Advertising Age, Saveur, US News & World Report, and Continental

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Warnings on Outside Magazine and Web Site

Mediabistro's FishbowlNY has a story about the alleged bad financial condition of Outside. According to the story, not only have people been laid off, but the magazine has taken months to pay freelancers.

To be fair, and the article does mention this, Outside has long had the reputation of being slow to pay. According to the article, as well as contributors to the magazine that I've spoken with over the years when reviewing contracts and counseling on negotiating, that includes expense reimbursement, which can be painful because a writer having to travel for research will generally front the money and get it afterwards. (Hint, if you're still planning to pitch Outside, consider negotiating for front money on expenses, with any extra something you will either reimburse or that will be counted against a fee.)Keyes assured FBNY that Outside is in good financial standing. "I feel really good about our longterm viability," he said. "This April's issue is 140 pages, while last year's was 136."

Some people we spoke with question the continued publication of Go earlier this year, especially given the battered market. (Best Life, a similarly themed book, folded earlier this March.) Ironically, Go is reportedly paying its writers more quickly than parent Outside -- although still months late -- but many within the company wonder why the money-hemorrhaging magazine still exists.
It may be that there are no problems financially, but then you have an even thornier question for a freelancer: If they have enough money, why do they think so little of their writers that they are unwilling to pay invoices in a timely fashion? It suggests an enormous degree of disrespect, and if they're going to act that way over money, how many other needless hoops are you likely to be asked to leap through? If they don't have enough money, why trust them? Woudln't that make them liars? In fact, if a magazine says it's going to pay in a given timeframe and consistently doesn't, for whatever reason, isn't it already lying?

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