Things sometimes take time when it comes to journalistic magazine production. And over time things can change. Also over time, I have made a number of submissions to a particular mainstream runner’s magazine in South Africa. The submissions often take at least 4-8 months before being published and hitting the news stands. Most of my content consists of two images used as double page spreads, a map graphic, and about 500 words of text. It has always been like that for this particular feature and it is a formula that works well and one that the magazine has used for years. So no change there.
What has changed, apparently, is their payment for the submission. And not upwards you probably aren’t surprised to learn. The drop in price was significant, at 40%, and enough for me to query if the payment was per double page spread (never mind about text and graphics) and not for the ‘package’, as in the past. It wasn’t. I requested some kind of explanation, assuming that there was some logic, perhaps the payments were separated into text and graphics. That’s how it used to be some years ago, in the industry. Whilst I am not in favour of cost cutting when it affects me negatively, I do understand that sometimes it is necessary. But 40%? Really?
I didn’t receive any explanation for weeks despite a second follow up email. I knew they didn’t have a backlog of content as the turn around time was quite quick at 3 months. Also the tone of the emails after submission confirmed that my journalistic training was appreciated (very little, if any, editing of the main text, a graphic that only needed dropping onto the page and images sized to match the output). I knew that even a mediocre designer could layout these four pages of the magazine in less than ten minuets. So you can understand my interest in finding out why there was such a marked drop in payment.
You can also understand my surprise when I bought a copy of the magazine in question and saw my images, text and graphic in print. And here I was thinking that I was waiting for confirmation of payment, which would equate to my permission to publish. Seeing it in print therefore negated any option I might have had to not have the work published, or to seek a more lucrative publisher.
And so time will tell, as I am still waiting for a response from the publishers as to why the payment was dropped by 40% and why my content was published prior to reaching an agreement. And because I haven’t received a response, I am also waiting to receive payment!