When You Don’t Get Paid, Part 5

If you’ve won in small claims court, congratulations. You feel justified, even rejuvenated. You’ve been through a lot, and  you’ve come out victorious.

Or have you?

Most publishers will pay you within a month of the court date.

On rare occasions, however, they won’t. In that case, you’ll have to hire a City Marshall to find the offending publisher and force them to pay. These investigators can dig into their bank accounts and take your money from them.

But that means more waiting to be paid and more paper work.

So, you’ll have to ask yourself, does it really pay to sue? It does if the payment for your work was fairly substantial. It does if you shed blood, sweat and tears on the story.

It does not if your payment was low, your work was quick, and you simply want to make a point. Make that point to your close friends. Don’t make that point publicly. It doesn’t look good and it could very well hurt your career in games journalism, which otherwise can be long and profitable.

After you’ve sued, can you ever work for the publication or Web site again? I have, even with the same editor. If you don’t get along with the editor, just wait. Editors change quickly. Magazine and Web site focus changes, too. But one thing shouldn’t change – your rights as a writer.

Neither should your honesty and affability when dealing with your editors. If you have an attitude, if you think you’re so good that you can’t be replaced, think again and change. No one is irreplaceable. But if you’re an agile writer and work with your editors to help them shine, you’ll rarely be without work.

-Harold Goldberg

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