The business of writing for magazines is often speculative in nature. It can often seem fruitless to conduct research on available paying magazines, attempt to understand their style and unique requirements, write the article, send the article, and then wait for what can seem a never ending response.
It can be even more daunting when you have invested significant time and energy and have received multiple rejection slips. It can cause an author to wonder if they should hang it up and head back to the ‘real world’.
One of the reasons writers are a breed apart is that the thrill of the creation is often on par with the actual acceptance. Many writers write because they simply have no choice; there is some inborn urge to create with words. A rejection is simply a sign that you are getting closer to finding the right publisher.
If you have reviewed submission guidelines for publications to any great degree you will see two separate payment methods listed.
When you see the term “On Acceptance” this is an indication that if the editor likes your work and ultimately accepts it for publication they will pay you at the time they accept the article even if the article shows up several months later.
When “On Publication” is included in the submission guidelines it is an indicator that if the editor accepts your article for publication they will withhold payment until the article is actually published.
If you have been commissioned by a magazine to write an article and you have, in good faith, supplied the article, they may provide you with a certain amount of money should they decide not to use the article you supplied. This may also apply to freelance work that was submitted and accepted, but ultimately not used. Other similar terms include, rejection fee and cancellation fee. These fees are generally a percentage of the original payment price.
Publishers can exercise this option for a variety of reasons including a lack of space and a choice to move in a different direction.
In many cases you will find publications you enjoy working with and may move from a freelance status to someone who is called upon to provide regular content. Often this scenario provides higher pay and a steady supply of writing assignments.