Yeah, this one blew my mind. I've seen plenty of lousy deals for writers in my day, but I think I may award this one World's Worst Publisher.
Below is an e-mail I wrote to their editor yesterday:
I wish you were kidding. I read this and my jaw dropped:
"If we accept an article, we will become the copyright holder. This is essential, especially on the Web, to allow us to actively protect our publications from copyright infringement. There are a few, very rare cases where we do not claim the copyright, but they are usually a result of a content-sharing relationship with another magazine. If you submit an article to ZATZ and we choose to publish it, you are thereby releasing any and all copyright to us. This, by the way, is the usual practice among most major magazines."
Oh, really? It's the usual practice among most major magazines to demand work-for-hire rights... and not pay for them?
Which magazines have you written for? I'm a full-time writer with hundreds of credits, and the only magazine that required work-for-hire rights from me paid me $4,000 for those rights.
And whether or not you own the copyrights to individual articles has no bearing on others infringing writers' copyrights.
But wait, your shtick gets better:
"Honorariums are rare (the tax paperwork is a royal pain)"
OH, COME ON! You're blaming it on the paperwork?! Shame, shame, shame.
"While we're on the topic of dos and don'ts, it's very important that all articles submitted must be original, unpublished works that will not be and have not been published elsewhere. We (and nearly all other publishers) frown severly on simultaneous submissions. This means it is also not okay to reproduce the article on your own Web site, although a link to the published article is certainly permitted, and even encouraged. You may print a limited number of copies of the article to show to prospective employers and clients (and, of course, your mom), but you can't run a published article in more than one publication. It's just not done and it's really, really bad."
Good job teaching all those stupid, naive writers what publication is all about.
It's "just not done?" One of my articles has been reprinted 19 times, and I got paid for each use. Simultaneous submissions are standard practice among experienced writers and real editors understand why the practice is necessary. Those who disallow it have EARNED that right by virtue of the fact that they PAY writers! You won't even allow your slaves to post their articles on their own websites? You have amazing nerve.
I have nothing against publishers who can't afford to pay writers. What I abhor are publishers who take advantage of writers, mislead them, and make ridiculous demands of people who are *volunteers.*
Yes, editor David Gewirtz responded, just as condescendingly as I figured he would, happily citing all his "happy authors" (hmm... sound familiar?), telling me how he must be doing "something right," and answering none of my concerns...
Then I found this and I realized there was no hope for this person:
YES, you're reading right: Zatz is actually selling reprints of the articles it got for free. $200, or $400 for a "rush." And the writers get nothing, because they signed over copyright when they DONATED their articles to this publisher.
David's e-mail: editor@ZATZ.com