We’ve got a new book out, 101 Things You Need to Know to Make it as a Travel Writer, that answers 101 questions that we hear from travel writers all the time that are holding them back from achieving their Dream of Travel Writing. To celebrate the new book, we’ll be tackling a new sticky travel-writing situation each Monday here on The Six-Figure Travel Writer blog.

“What parts of my freelance writing contract can I negotiate?”

Sadly, I can’t remember where I heard this particular piece of advice in order to attribute it properly but early in my career, an established freelancer once told me that no matter how big the publication, if you negotiate on rights, they always have a back-up contract to offer.

I often see, in various writing groups that I’m a part of, people who are afraid to negotiate for different rights because they think the editor will drop the assignment rather than change the terms.

If the editor won’t change the terms, you can decide whether you really want to write the piece. But how can you make that decision without all the information?

Try asking for these replacements for some common, catastrophic contract terms:

  • Work-for-hire: 5-year, world-wide exclusive in all formats that currently exist or will be invented, followed by non-exclusive rights in perpetuity
  • Exclusive rights in all formats that currently exist or will be invented: Exclusive rights for one year, followed by non-exclusive rights
  • Exclusive web rights: At a minimum, the ability to display the clip, or a part of it on your webpage, but if it’s a print publication, aim for non-exclusive web rights after a period of exclusivity
  • Losing 10% of pay per day for late work: Asking them to add 10% for every day payment is late as well (since no one seems to trust each other, at least ask them to do the same)

Think of it like a ladder. You want to move them down as many rungs as possible so you can reach up and grab the thing they’re trying to hand you.

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