Concerns (and Solutions!) for Freelance Writers Part 2

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Last week, I shared with you some common concerns freelancers have and ways to solve them. I received some terrific comments, and many were full of tips, too. I hope the same thing happens this week! (Hint, hint!) Last week, I covered these three main freelancing problems: running out of ideas, health insurance, and time management. As promised, here are the last two concerns:

Concern #4: Stealing My Ideas

This is a big concern for many new writers. They worry if they send an idea in a query letter to a magazine, the editor will steal the wonderful idea and assign it to a staff writer. This RARELY happens; and to be honest, if it does happen, there’s actually nothing you can do about a stolen idea—ideas cannot be copyrighted. However, if an editor printed an entire article without giving you credit or a byline, then she would be in violation of the copyright law.

According to Marcia Yudkin, who has a website titled Creative Marketing Solutions: “The moment you fix your idea in tangible form, what you wrote is automatically covered by copyright law. You do not need to place a copyright notice on it, and many editors, therefore, take such a copyright notice on unpublished work as a mark of an amateur.”

She suggests the way to keep the rare editor from stealing an idea is to write the query in a way that no other writer could create the article except you. If you are sending to reputable magazines, websites, and newspapers, an editor stealing your ideas should be the very least of your worries.

Concern #5: Contracts—Rights and Payments

You should understand any contract you sign, including what rights to your work you’re giving up and when you will be paid. Once you understand these contract terms, many worries should be erased, such as concerns about whether or not you can reprint an article or when your check or PayPal payment will be arriving. Many freelancers seem to worry about editors and publications taking advantage of them and offering unfair terms or no payments.

Here’s the thing: Don’t worry about these publications because you don’t have to write for them. If you don’t want to give away all your rights, then don’t write an article for a publication that buys all rights. You can read writers’ guidelines on websites or contact the publication if it’s not clear. As a freelancer, you do have a choice on whom you work for, where your work is published, and how much money you need to make for a weekly salary. Instead of worrying about these issues, set goals and standards for yourself and then do your homework.

Any career is going to come with concerns, and there will be days when you worry. But to be the best freelancer you can be, you don’t have time to waste on worrying. If a problem comes up, educate yourself on solutions by finding sources or other freelancers you trust. Then put those solutions into action. The most important thing is to spend your time writing. Don’t let worries stand in the way of your dream—it is possible to work for yourself as a freelancer and to be successful!

If you are interested in getting started as a freelancer or learning tips for writing query letters and articles, then consider taking my online freelancing course through WOW!'s classroom, starting on August 19. It's not too late to register. Any questions? You can contact me at margo (at) or leave a comment here.
Post by Margo L. Dill

Photo by jczart


Margo Dill said...

Sorry the link wasn't working earlier! It's fixed now. :)

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