Help - what would you do?

@Canellita (12058)
United States
August 26, 2010 3:00pm CST
Ok myLotters, what do you think of this: it is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Sunday. I received an email from Associated Content to do a first person account story of where I was for the hurricane, what happened, how it affected me and how my life has been since (5 years worth of story). I had to submit all this in detail in less than 200 words and then wait to be approved. I got the go ahead to do the article at a whopping $15 payment. The email also said to stick to what I originally submitted. That meant I had to fill in the details for those events first and then add other significant information and keep it all under 900 words. Well, 9000 words would not have been sufficient but I managed to do it, even though the writing of the article proved to be terribly stressful as we are still dealing with the effects of Katrina and there are a lot of reminders and photos and things that are important for other people to see and hear about, but not for those of us who are here dealing with the day to day experience. I had to be very careful in telling my story because members of my family would read or at least hear about it and there are things about the experience that make them look bad for things they did (to me). I have enough material to really put out a book and I had started to think it was time to do so and get everything out good and bad once and for all. I turned my article in about 3 am Monday morning; 7 hours before the deadline. I didn't hear anything back and finally today I get an email with an offer of only $8 saying that they could not offer me the full amount because my story did not have enough detail. (I also included three photos!) When I accepted the assignment it was with the understanding that I might be asked to edit it. If they wanted more detail or any change to the article all they had to do was contact me, but no. Instead they insult my intelligence and in the process diminish my experience and that of all the other people who were and continue to be impacted by this event. So, I have the option of taking their $8 or telling them to stick it and looking for another home for my article. As much as I need the money I am tempted to post it somewhere else for free and then do my best to make sure everyone in the world knows what they did! What would you do?
3 people like this
10 responses
@writersedge (22579)
• United States
26 Aug 10
Did they have some fine print somewhere that said they could offer up to $15? When I get an offer, I put it in a folder and save it for later. Then I go over it and make sure that they didn't short change me. Do you have the original offer stating that they would pay you $15? If you do and there doesn't seem to be loop hole they can crawl through, I would send it as an attachment or do a forward and ask them what happened to the other $7? I'd also ask why they didn't have you edit it. It's possible, one person made the offer and another is in charge of paying or that they have a carefully worded loop hole. Maybe they think you won't remember who much the original offer was? I think I'd get to the bottom of this money discrepancy before I made any decisions. Esp. since I'm sure someone must be interested in your story enough to pay. To be offered $15, work so hard. Then be told you're only getting $8, that just doesn't seem right to me. Since you seem to have the option to retract it, you can. Once your story is out there for free, unless a tv host takes an interest or someone like that and you get invited to be on a talk show, this article might b e the only chance to make $ on it. Or not, if you know somewhere else will pay for it. Other than argue with them and try to get the full amount, I don't know what I would do if I were you. That's up to you. Let us know what you decide to do.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
26 Aug 10
I had the same thought and went back to the email for the assignment (I had to apply first) and it did not say that. It said they were going to pay $15; there was nothing about partial payments. I went on the site today to the contact us section and told them I did exactly as they asked with the full understanding I might have to make changes and that no one contacted me about the article until 3 days after the due date and then only to offer less money. I also said their response to me and their offer completely diminish my experience and that of others (that still continues to this day) and that their entire editorial staff should be ashamed. (This was a Yahoo partner assignment.) I went through a bunch of stuff with the storm and in living here after people were allowed to come back (like having to leave home again after the stupid contractor made a hole in the bedroom ceiling and it rained...) and I'm still going through all kinds of crap. Last year we were traumatized by months of road work that was simultaneously going on all over town that made it difficult to go anywhere. It went on for so long it really did begin to get traumatic. It was unbelievable. People don't realize how much of a toll these things take on you. I saw someone a few months ago who was just now able to return and start working on his house. It took him more than 4 years!
@writersedge (22579)
• United States
27 Aug 10
So you are fighting. Let me know how that works out because I'm hoping you win. 4 years, that's a very long time. And now this oil spill. You've all got a lot of fortitude. I would have never made it through 4 years. Then have more trouble heaped up from the ocean floor.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
If they don't get back to me with an offer for the full amount I am going to post it to my blog. I decided to keep my account with them for now, as they had finally started accepting my articles for upfront payment recently. Here's a thought: This morning someone said her parents just finally got mail delivery restored to their home! I can't believe it. Even now I am still amazed when I talk to people or hear others' stories.
• United States
24 Oct 10
Sounds to me like this is a story that is yours to tell. I'd back out of the payment option with AC and post it for display only for the views. Then you can do same elsewhere with it. And then also, it's a teaser for more that will surely be written, your book, for example! Good luck! PS...I'm at AC if you'd like to follow me, my link is here on my profile.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
24 Oct 10
I am still on the outs with AC. I've always done better at Helium and now I'm doing way better with Gather.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Oct 10
I've never made much on AC, but then I only post for display, as I don't care for their 'rules' for other posting. I'm on Gather, too, love it there, been there for well over a year (ruthcox.gather.com).
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
7 Mar 11
Just now seeing this; I'll have to look you up at Gather!
1 person likes this
@sierras236 (2740)
• United States
26 Aug 10
My vote, Stick it to them. You can still spread the word about AC, you don't have to publish your article to do that. Or better yet, take your article back, don't publish it at all and save it for your book.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
26 Aug 10
That's another thing; they wanted exclusive rights to my article and said it could not be republished ever any place else! The more I talk or email about the experience the more details I remember. I included some things that happened even two years later like a first ever tornado and some other things that just poured salt on the wound so to speak. It really just burns me up! I wish there were time to shop it around to a site like Constant Content or one of the others that pays real money.
• United States
26 Aug 10
Yeah, that's why I wanted you to take back your article. I am trying to think of someplace that might pay you to take it. There is a demand for Katrina type of articles. You might try submitting it to a magazine.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
Well, it's not going to be "big news" anywhere after Sunday so right now I am thinking I will post it to my own blog.
• United States
26 Aug 10
You know you can, if in fact you still hold the original agreement, contact a News station and send them an email. Better yet if you still hold the original agreement and in fact there are no loop holes you should let this company know via email would be a start that they are not honoring the agreement and if do not you will be sending this information to a News media as this is taking advantage of people and clearly they will be making much more after you give it to them. This is one fine example. Betcha they will re-think the payment as I am sure they will not want the media attention. Good Luck with this.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
26 Aug 10
I did contact them and I am waiting to see what happens with it. They are pretty slow to get back to you and I considered posting something to one of their forums. I would love to bring this to the attention of the national media. I was hesitant to do the piece in the first place because I didn't want to rehash all that stuff all over again. The entire time I worked on it I was restless and had to really push to get it done by the deadline (I only had 3 days). They have never been my favorite site but it seemed like I was finally starting to make some headway with them recently. The whole thing just burns me up.
• United States
26 Aug 10
Know you have options before settling as this is exactly what they expect from hardworking people.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
Yeah, I'm giving them 24 hours to get back to me, then I'm going to take some other steps.
• United States
29 Aug 10
First congratulations on surviving a nightmare and having the courage to write about it. I stopped writing for AC several years ago because every now and again, mainly when I seemed to get a lot of page views, they would come through and cancel a perfectly good article for no reason with no explanation. I don't really care much for them, but that may be just me. Of course, I would never sell them all rights to anything. I personally think even $15 is way too low for such a story. They are going to make much more than that off your work, but I understand too that exposure for any writer is important. I personally would turn them down flat, I certainly would not sell them all rights to anything. You might want to think about going over and posting such a story squidoo.com. You can post anything you want there, you don't make a lot of money (well,I don't..some people do) but if you get enough people to look at your story then you can make some money there. Is it possible you can refuse to sell them this story and still write for AC if you choose? In case you want to stay with them? One thing you should know too, that those sites never like to tell you, facts absolutely can't be copyrighted. The way you write or present the facts can, but you can do several stories from several angles just using the same facts. When they buy all rights to your story they're just buying all rights to that particular story, the way your wrote it, etc. But if you present the facts in a different way then there's nothing they can do about that. For instance, say you told your whole horrible story about living through Katrina and they bought all rights to that. Well, you couldn't sell that particular story again if they bought all rights. But if there was a little bit in that story, say there was a pet you fought to save or something along those lines, you could certainly write a whole new story on that and post it elsewhere. As long as you rewrite some aspect of the facts in a different way you're fine. You just can't write the exact same story, even in slightly different words, if it's too similar to the piece where you sold all rights. Still, facts themselves can't be copyrighted. My advice is don't take any money where they want to buy all rights. If you like, post it on AC as a non-exclusive piece. I know you can do that there, it pays hardly anything (if they allow it with this work, I haven't been on there in a long time, but until you take their offer and sell them all rights then it's my impression they don't own it automatically). When you don't sell them exclusive rights, you have the right to post the same piece elsewhere as well. You could post it there and www.squidoo.com as well if you like, as long as you don't sell all or first time rights. By now of course this might be a moot point, you might have already decided what to do, but just know you can still write about Katrina experiences in other ways, even if you did sell them all rights by now to your original story. Just don't make it similar to the story you sold all rights to, but keep in mind that facts are just facts. All they are buying is all rights to the way that story is written, you can still use the facts in another way and another angle to write another story elsewhere if you wish, as long as it's different to a large degree from the story you sold all rights to. Good luck with this and if you do decide to post it on your blog or squidoo.com let me know and I'll go over and read it for sure.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
1 Sep 10
Ooops, got my comments mixed up. The bit about reading articles on Helium belongs with the response below.
@thea09 (18327)
• Greece
30 Aug 10
Hi Canellita, Don't even think about selling exclusive rights for such a poxy sum. Think of the long term residuals you would be giving up. You could earn $8 every few months continuously with a good article. The upfronts on Helium might be low but the residuals make it worthwhile. In fact I was rating some aticles about Hurricane Katrina the other day so pop it onto Helium and see how it pays out in residuals.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
1 Sep 10
You're right. I usually don't mind exclusive rights for what I consider throw away articles, but this one was a little different. I wonder if one of the Helium articles you rated was one of mine. I made the mistake of getting into the hurricane title contest last month; by the time it was over I was burned out and couldn't do the rest of the titles. The rating aspect of that drives me nuts. You constantly go up and down and then when it's over your article will magically float to the top again.
@scheng1 (24742)
• Singapore
27 Aug 10
Hi Canellita, did they say they will pay $15 or up to $15? Would you receive the page view payment on top of the $8 upfront payment? If Associated Content going to pay separately for page views, I think the overall payment will exceed $10. That is better than you can get elsewhere. I think your content will be featured to get the maximum exposure.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
I went back and checked the email because I had that same question. They said $15. It was a partner assignment for Yahoo. The content was supposed to be featured but to have them tell me they can't pay me the full amount because the article was not detailed enough is unfathomable to me. A real editor would have contacted me and asked me to make adjustments, not wait three days and tell me they weren't going to pay the full amount. The way AC handled this is terrible and I want them to know I am not some desperate wannabe who will take anything they dish out just to get my article published. I only took the assignment because of the $15. Katrina was a very difficult thing and many people had it way worse than I did. I learned last night that one of my friends was away working and his job flew him home only for him to arrive at his father's house and find his body where it had sat for a very long time, even though someone had already discovered and reported it. 9000 words would not be enough for me to give all the important details about this experience that is still raw and still continuing. I found AC's actions extremely insensitive under the circumstances and I want them and Yahoo to know and I want the world to know what happened.
@crazydaisy (3899)
• Canada
26 Aug 10
Take the $8.00 dollars and tell other people about what happen to you and nether bother with them again so they know what to expect it's not fair you wasting all that time to get the pictures and did there work for them and that's all they pay you it's a joke and they get alot more money for what you sent in. cd
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
I am giving them 24 hours to get back to me with the full offer. I would rather publish it for free someplace else than take the $8. This is personal.
@Catana (736)
• United States
26 Aug 10
From what I've read on the Associated Content forums, this is pretty typical of their offers. There's no actual promise to pay $15.00, and a lot of people are offered less than the original amount quoted. It's not a bad price for an article on AC because normal upfronts don't get that much. But if you were expecting the full amount, and if you don't want to give up your rights for that amount, then don't accept the offer. I don't know what you mean by it's being too late to put it up on Constant Content. The hurrican season isn't nearly over, so there might be better offers from buyers. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but it could be that by the time you've worked your butt off to write the article, including the changes they want, they figure you'll accept anything they offer rather than not get paid at all.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
27 Aug 10
Well, by too late I meant that the anniversary is only a few days away. It's not a general article about hurricane season so from an editorial perspective it won't be as timely after August 29. All the media outlets from online to TV to print have been revisiting the area and talking to residents and running follow up stories, etc. By Monday morning they will have moved on to other things. I don't even have an account with CC, so the time it would take for the piece to come to someone's attention would make it no longer relevant with most publishers.
@Sandra1952 (6052)
• Spain
26 Aug 10
Hello, Canellita. I'd go with one of the news channels, or suggest it as a title to Helium, and follow up with more on the same theme. If you pick the right channel, you'll get an empty title bonus and upfront payment, and the article is still yours to publish elsewhere. I lost faith in AC when they stopped paying international writers. I could only earn for page views anyway, but it takes a lot longer to publish on AC than Helium, and if Helium can pay international writers the same rates as US citizens, surely AC can as well? You're a good writer, and it must have really taken it out of you to write about that - it's still early days, and the memories must still hurt a lot. AC do not deserve you, and you deserve better. I'll be thinking of you on Sunday.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
26 Aug 10
I should send it to you. I was amazed at how stressful it was working on that piece even after all this time, but I guess it makes sense since I am not working outside of writing and the craft stuff right now and this assignment meant a lot to me and my monthly expenses. My car conked out about a month ago and forget fixing it, I can't even insure it to keep driving it right now. The insurance company said they could work with me though, so I have to call them back in a couple weeks. It's been one friggin' thing after another and every time you think things are finally on track something comes up again. There were so many details I had to be careful about like getting kicked out of the place I was staying after the flooding happened and I had to evacuate... and things I couldn't include with the less than 900 word restriction. The whole time reports were going on that were doom and gloom there was some good stuff going on too and in the early days when I returned I wanted to write about some of that stuff, but I didn't have an outlet for it at the time. Thanks for your thoughts!
1 person likes this