I often have aspiring writers ask me if they should write for free. I usually tell them if something’s good enough to publish, you should be paid for it. I confess I often see things published that weren’t good enough to see the light of day, in my humble opinion, but yesterday I saw something that completely blew my mind.
There was a “job” listing by a publication at the freelance board for the Society of Professional Journalists. I took a look at the publication’s Web site. The manuscript and image submission guidelines state the following:
“By submitting your material, for good and valuable consideration, the sufficiency and receipt of which you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to (publication) a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, and otherwise exhibit the materials you submit, or any portion thereof, as incorporated in their feature, (name of feature) or the promotion thereof, in any manner and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without payment to you or any third party.”
Amazing. My advice to you when confronting terms like this: Just don’t do it.
The Web enables any aspiring artist in any genre to set up a blog or Web site and share your work. This is the era of citizen journalism. Why would you want to assign any kind of rights to your material if you’re not getting compensated? So you can say someone else put your work on their site and stuck your name on it?
This is almost as bad as buying an anthology so your poem will be included in a book.
Be smart. If your content is good enough to publish you deserve to be paid. And if you’re not offered compensation, go and set up a blog or a Web site. You can do that free at a number of places, including blogger.com.