The One Thing You Aren’t Doing as a Freelance Writer (And you should be!)

The one thing you should be doing as a freelance writer!

The First Time

I sold a piece (insert fist pump). The compensation would be significant (double fist pump). And, like many publications, I needed to sign an agreement and then submit an invoice with their specific information.

Done and done. I was ready to go. This was huge, and in my previous experience, this particular publication was very prompt with their payments.

I clicked send and relaxed.

The Second Time

I had a piece accepted at a smaller publication. Normally, they were very prompt with their payments, yet I hadn’t received anything. Interesting.

I emailed the publication to double check the status of everything. They didn’t have record of my agreement. No big deal, I’ll send the copy of my agreement again.

I clicked send and relaxed.

And yet… crickets…

Months went by, and I still hadn’t received any notification or payment from either publication. Not unusual, publishing is notoriously slow, and payments can get backlogged, plus with COVID everything is delayed and frustratingly slow. So I sent a couple of emails just to check on the status.

I received no response.

The Problem with Email

I love email. I love how quick and immediate it is. Gone are the days of sending off hardcopies of submissions to wait for weeks, months, or even years for a response. Now with email, response times are much quicker, and you save on so much postage and paper! What could possibly go wrong?

Except email, like all things, is never 100% reliable. Things get lost in junk/trash files, emails get accidentally deleted or lost in the shuffle, or never received at all! Internet can fritz out, servers go down, and sometimes entire systems get jacked up. Email is far from perfect, and when you rely on it so heavily, as we do today, when it doesn’t work as it is suppose to, it’s incredibly frustrating.

And when you’re a freelance writer and depend on email correspondence with publishers, it can be a huge deal when email fails you.

These days, agreements, contracts, financial information, clips–EVERYTHING is handle by email. If that information is lost, accidentally deleted, or never received in the first place, it can cause an enormous headache for all parties involved. Writers wait for feedback, submission updates, and payments. Editors and publishers are waiting for the go ahead, and confirmation from writers. They can’t publish a piece without the permission of the author by contract, agreement, or written statement.

Basically, one hiccup in the track and the entire train can be derailed.

When Email Goes Awry

Within a matter of days of each other, I received an email from each publication telling me they never received my agreement/invoice and we were a month or two away from publication. (Insert panic and heart palpitations!)

What happened? I knew I had sent them in, why hadn’t they received the appropriate paperwork? This was a nightmare, not only for my income and working relationship with these publications, but also for their timelines!

After panicking, I sent in the appropriate information and did one important thing:

Requested Confirmation of Receipt of Email

I’m actually mad at my self for not doing this from the get go. If you’re a freelance writer, and you have a lot of irons in the fire, you need to keep track of your submissions, acceptances, and contracts. You are also responsible for making sure the publications get the paperwork they need. It is not the magazine or journal’s responsibility. It is yours as the writer. When you send any important information via email, always request confirmation of receipt of the email. That way, if you don’t hear back within 5-7 business days, you know to check in again and make sure they have the materials they need.

Do not blame anyone else, not even faulty email. Simply apologize for the mistake, and make it right. Be professional, and prompt with the information. But don’t point fingers and blame. Just own it and move on.

(And maybe get a new email provider.)

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