How to underpay a freelance writer

May 18, 2011
  1. Suggest a rate of payment when that author starts writing for you. For five years, never increase the rate, during which time period, the cost of living has shot up incredibly. Compare the price of petrol between 2006 and now, in India…or the cost of, say, tuvar dal.

  2. Tell the writer that since the magazine is in a cash crunch, no matter what she writes, she will get paid only for two full-length articles per month. Ask her to put articles in her blog, for which she will not be paid.

  3. Over five years, never pay for a single photograph (unless it is a photo feature) with the logic, “We don’t pay our writers for photographs.”. This way, you get literally dozens of photographs without paying a penny. If the photographs were good enough for you to publish with the article, were they not good enough to pay for?

  4. Deduct large sums as TDS from the already paltry sums earned by the writer. Give her no tax breaks at all…cut off nearly 40% of what she earned one year.

  5. Take longer and longer to put accepted articles live on the magazine, and in one instance, never “publish” one write-up at all. Since you have an arrangement that the article must first appear only on your magazine, this effectively prevents the writer from getting it published elsewhere.

  6. Never share the viewers’ stats with the writer. Never tell her how many people are reading her articles/blogs. Call it “confidential”. Doesn’t a writer have the right to know how many eyeballs her work is getting?

How can a magazine that I like to write for, and whose team and culture I like…and would like to continue with… do this? It’s so demotivating.

Blessed are the meek, as they shall soon stop writing altogether!