Five Magic Phrases: Tips for Negotiating Like a Pro
|By Jenna Glatzer|
Writers who are new to freelancing are
often too afraid to ask for more than an editor offers. Thrilled to be
making any money at all, new writers typically agree to whatever figure is
proposed. I was no exception to this rule, but once Iíd built up my credits,
I realized editors werenít about to offer me a raise if I continued to play
the role of doormat writer.
Once a writer has some experience, the bottom line becomes more important. Especially if one aspires to write full-time, "trivial issues" like prompt and appropriate payment start to matter when you depend on your writing income to pay the bills.
Until youíve tried negotiating, you may not realize how much youíve been undercut. An editorís first offer is rarely the maximum amount he or she can actually afford to pay you; as is human nature, most editors will try to get good writing at the lowest possible cost. Your job is to convince those editors that paying you a little extra for your piece will be worth it. How?
The answer may be simpler than you ever imagined: you just have to ask. In over four years as a full-time writer, Iíve gotten exactly what I asked for in every case except oneóand even in that case, I was able to get the editor to spring for a 10% increase. In other words, every single time I got up the nerve to negotiate, I wound up with a bigger paycheck.
Remember that everything within a contract is fair grounds for negotiation; your goal should be to sell the fewest rights for the highest fee, payable quickly after submission. You can also strike better deals for the inclusion of a bio-note or advertisement for your business, extra payment for extra services (like photos and sidebars), and a high kill fee if such terms are necessary.
Itís always slightly uncomfortable for a writer to ask for more than an editor wishes to spend. But, with a few key phrases under your belt, you, too, can significantly increase your income.
|The Magic Phrases|
For pop psychology fans, this one brings the editor onto your "team." By using the word "we," youíve asked the editor to partner with you in coming up with more acceptable terms. This question opens the door to a variety of improvements; you may choose to talk about fees, rights, word count, sidebars, kill fees, etc.
Whichever phrases you use, keep in mind that your tone and professionalism will matter. You must convey the impression that you are self-confident and aware of the value of your work. And, with a few successful negotiations to your credit, you may be able to stop acting and start believing.
|Originally published in Writer's Digest, 2001. Reprinted with permission.|
|Jenna Glatzer is a nationally-published freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com). She is the author of Outwitting Writer's Block and Other Problems of the Pen and Words You Thought You Knew: 1001 Commonly Misused and Misunderstood Words and Phrases, as well as lots of other books that you can find here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/jenna/books.htm.|