Monday, December 15, 2008

How to Know when You've Been Published

Publication Information Deprecation

Last Monday in this post I mentioned that a travel feature I produced on Santa Fe, and Native American Pueblos, was about to be published, after languishing in the offices of the Irish Times newspaper since April 2008.

I was told of the imminent publication by a sub-editor, who was preparing the article for the press and was looking for the accompanying photographs because the disk I had sent with the text, had been mislaid. Although the "sub" couldn't give me a confirmed date, he felt sure that it would be published before Christmas. When I called back to confirm that he had received my disk with copies of the 20 photographs, he was pretty sure that publication was scheduled for Saturday 20th December.

The issue here is simple. If I don't know when the article will be published, I can't invoice the newspaper for it. Being told the estimated date by a sub-editor is useful, but it is really the job of the Travel section editor (where the feature would be printed) to let me know when and if the piece is being published, and how much she intends to pay me for it.

The last time I had a travel feature published in the Irish Times, I was told 2 weeks in advance of publication and the editor asked me for my invoice. The section editor has changed in the last few weeks, and the new one didn't answer my email, sent a week ago, asking her to confirm the publication date.

This sort of thing shouldn't be left to chance. After all, this is my livelihood we're talking about, and I was professional enough to give them a feature they want to publish (the "sub" was very complimentary about the photographs) so, the least they can do is let me know that I can invoice them.

So, what I'm going to do next is:
1) Look up the NUJ (National Union of Journalists - I'm a member) rates for 2000 words and at least two photographs across a two page spread on the inside pages (the "sub" told me that much) of a national newspaper with a large circulation.
2) Email the travel section editor again - this time with a copy to NUJ HQ.
3) Make sure I get the paper on Saturday.
4) And, if the feature is published; email my invoice (again copied to NUJ HQ) for the full recommended NUJ rate.

Usually, editors offer less than the NUJ rates, which are often thought to be higher than the "norm". Last time, I took a good fee but not one as high as the NUJ would have suggested.

But this time, with advance notification and only good luck to ensure that I knew it was being published - what if the photos had not been lost - would I have been told anything at all - I think they deserve the full NUJ invoice.

Of course, if I am told before I send the email - I'll take my hat off to the Irish Times!

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