When things go from crappy to shitty

2 Comments

I’m fucked.

I recently did the cover photo for an awesome feminist magazine. But alas, the editor keeps extending the date when I get my cheque. As a result, I’m short $300 for rent. I’ve been issued an eviction notice and there’s no sign of me getting that money any time soon. So, I’m desperately searching for any kind of work.

Here’s a picture of the magazine, followed my the email I sent to the editor.

herizonscover.jpg

Hi Penni,

Thank you for getting back to me

I understand how hard it is to run a non-profit magazine, I’ve worked
with several in my 11 years in this profession. But I really wish you
had given me an accurate time as to when I would receive payment for
my photographs. Had you said you were going to pay me $100 in August
or $20 in October, I’d have been fine with that. I can work with that.
That would have saved me immense grief. I would have been able to plan
ahead a bit more.

Freelance writing and photography is my primary source of income.
Right now, it’s my only source of income. I rely on editors who can
pay me when they say are going to.

This vague notion of “in a few weeks” really doesn’t sit well with me.
First, I was told I’d get the cheques a few weeks after the magazine
came out. Then I got the magazines on the 20th of June and there was a
note saying cheques would come a few weeks after that. Now it’s early
July and I’m supposed to wait another few weeks until your ad revenue
comes in.

The money I was supposed to get for this photo represented a huge part
of my July budget. Based on what you told me, I was expecting the
money to come in early July at the latest. Without that money I can’t
pay rent. I’ve been evicted from my apartment and have until the 12th
to move out.
I find it ironic that a magazine dedicated to social justice, which
receives support from the unions is so lax about upholding a basic
worker’s right. Freelance workers are workers too and are entitled to
the same rights of any worker. We should be paid when the employer
says we are going to be paid. If you can’t afford to pay for us for
the work we do, then you can’t afford to run a magazine.

It would be a real treat to receive money you said you’d pay me before
I’m homeless. I’ve sent you an attachment.

Regards,
-Nathaniel

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada who has blogged here for 20 years. I like to share my thoughts and feelings on my own online space. From 1998 until 2017 I worked as a journalist and I hope to use this website as an archive for all of my stories.

2 Comments

  1. Here’s the response I got from the editor:

    Hi Nathaniel:

    I will be in a position to write your cheque as soon as Herizons has enough cash in the bank to make sure it doesn’t bounce. I really am sorry about your eviction notice.

    I know it doesn’t matter, in the end, that we aren’t out to slime writers and photographers, because when you’re not paid, you’re not paid. I am a freelance writer as well–I get it–this gig doesn’t pay all of my bills. At the same time, I do I feel like a shit a lot of the time making people wait after they’ve done the work 3 or 4 months ago–it comes with the job. I get to inform people they will be paid upon publication. And then they sometimes have to wait even longer and it is often a huge inconvenience.

    I spent yesterday chasing down some old unpaid advertising invoices and appear to have had some success. We hope to hear any day about a small arts grant that will help our cash flow over the next 4 months. The excuses really could go on and on–but they aren’t your problem, they’re mine. So, for example, generally I pay the writers who write the longest pieces (and worked the hardest) and those who work freelance first. Smaller pieces and reprints generally get paid with the second batch. This is the sad reality of publishing a small feminist magazine–they aren’t fun judgment calls–who to pay first, but believe it or not, the contributors get paid before any other bills for an issue. The corporate (but unionized) printer always gets paid last.

    I am in no way seeking sympathy, or even empathy, just explaining the down side of magazine publishing..

    Yours,
    Penni

  2. OMG! Nathaniel I am so sorry to read this. I wish I was a millionaire and could buy you that apartment. I’m not familiar with labour laws surrounding this type of work, so I’m not a good resource this time, unfortunately. I hope this all works out and that you are able to come back from this before the eviction.

    My thoughts are with you.

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