The 5 Magic Phrases

September 1st, 2005 by Rolf Erikson

The Magic Phrases

  1. “That sounds a little low.”
    A timeless classic. This follows a golden rule of writing: keep it simple. No matter what figure is proposed, just state those five words and then shut your mouth. Since no one can stand uncomfortable silences, your tight lips will force the editor to say something in response. Either he or she will make a new offer, ask you what you need, or tell you that’s the best they can do. If it’s the latter, employ one of the next phrases.
  2. “To make it worth my time, I would need…”
    This one lets you take control of the situation. If you’ve already figured out approximately how much time and effort this piece will require, you should be able to determine how much you expect to be paid for it. Make sure that you’ve done some research and that your figure is in the realm of what that particular market typically pays. (Asking for a figure that’s 20% more than their average payment for an article of your word count and scope is reasonable; asking for 200% more is not.) Don’t bother mincing your words; just state your figure and let the editor decide whether or not to meet your demands.
  3. “Considering the amount of research required, can we agree to…”
    You can end this open-ended statement with a higher fee, less rights, or other “barters.” Heavily researched pieces often have potential reprint markets. If an editor has asked for all rights, or exclusivity in any way, use this as a bartering chip. Mention that you can only give them exclusivity if they’ll raise the fee; otherwise, you’ll accept the fee for one-time rights (or whatever rights you find suitable) only. You may also barter for free advertising space, links to your website, etc.
  4. “I’m expecting more for this piece.”
    Another simple statement that forces the ball back to the editor’s proverbial court. Again, follow this one with silence, and allow the editor to come up with a new figure. This statement introduces the possibility that you could decide to sell the piece elsewhere if the editor doesn’t meet your requirements.
  5. “Can we work on that?”
    For pop psychology fans, this one brings the editor onto your “team.” By using the word “we,” you’ve asked the editor to partner with you in coming up with more acceptable terms. This question opens the door to a variety of improvements; you may choose to talk about fees, rights, word count, sidebars, kill fees, etc.

Skrivit av Jenna Glatzer som är en US-nationally-published freelance writer. Knepen kan dock användas i många sammanhang. Om du känner att du inte vågar förhandla kan du alltid ställa dig frågan: “Vad är det värsta som kan hända”?