Sunday, June 24, 2007

Giving Away the Store

Remember what it was like, starting out as a freelancer?

(Maybe you're already just beginning your writing career, in which case this posting will be even MORE relevant!)

Do you recall how every job seemed so special, so amazing? Any amount of money, any copyright agreement, any assignment was the "right" one.

That was pretty cool... until the day you were thumped on the noggin by a falling anvil with the word "SUCKER" printed all over it.

Such an occurrence happened to me recently.

I was innocently Googling one version of my name (yes, I admit it...) and came across literally dozens of hits. Excitedly, I started surfing the many seemingly-unrelated sites, only to realize that an article I had written a while ago had been somehow promoted everywhere.

It was great PR... for the publication's website.

Yes, I got my little old byline, for which I should be eternally grateful. But I also got zero in terms of payment for all those times my article was being used.

Know why?



I messed up.

To their credit, the client paid me quite well for the writing I initially did. And I suppose I can use the continuing publicity to my advantage in some ways which I haven't yet considered.

But dang.

I'm the first person to advise other writers to seriously consider the consequences of giving away all rights to a work, even if it's just a 1,000 word article, for crying out loud. And here I am, eating my words (which would be better with a side order of greasy fries, by the way.)


Next time, I'll not only read the fine print but also mull over what could happen down the road.

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