Wil Byers and I communicated by email last summer regarding my writing for his magazine Inland NW (formerly known as Mid-Columbian). Byers publishing line also includes RC Sport Flyer Magazine. I advised Byers that my standard rate per word was 25-50 cents per word, but he told me that he told me he paid 20 cents a word. I agreed to that rate. Byers e-mailed me a few months later with a list of content that we MUST publish the following year. Such a list is also known in publishing as an editorial calendar. I was directed by Byers and his editor Erica Wolfe to write and provide photos for two articles. The first article, scheduled for their May issue was due February 1st. The second, scheduled for the July issue, was due April 5th. Wolfe noted her credentials as a Brigham Young University alum in her email.
On December 30th, his editor Erica Wolfe e-mailed me to remind me of the February 1st due date for the first article. [continued below]....
..... I replied with additional questions about the article specifications including length and scope, and upon her answers, I worked accordingly. I submitted the first article and dozens of photos in January. The following week, I e-mailed Wolfe twice for feedback and received no response. I telephoned her in early February and she told me the article was great, needed no corrections and would run in May.
Believing everything was in line for the publication for the first article, I began work on the second feature and submitted it on April 5th. Two days later on April 7th, Wolfe advised me that the first article would not run because we have more content than we can publish and money is tight right now. This was an article sent to a writers as a MUST publish. She did not explain why, in December, she reminded me of the February due date rather than just cancelling the article, why she didnt cancel the article in January rather than answering my questions. She also did not reveal why, if they were so backlogged on content due to their own disorganization, she didnt simply cancel the second article in February or March, before I began or continued working on it. The first article was an evergreen, meaning its content was not time-sensitive and it could have easily taken the place of the second article.
To date, I have not received payment for either article. I have been a published writer for over a decade and have never encountered another publication that failed to pay for assigned articles written. Apparently the second article did run, although the magazine did not send a copy as is a standard industry courtesy. I spent 33 hours on the first article including research, contacting and interviewing sources, travel to the city in question, visiting venues, sourcing photos and writing the article. I spent 22 hours on the second article including research, contacting sources, travel, touring facilities, sourcing photos and writing the article. That is a total of 55 hours of unreimbursed work.
I have been asking for my payment since April by e-mail, telephone and certified mail. Byers finally replied on August 17 with the claim that Times are tough right now to excuse his lack of payment. Byers has gone on expensive personal trips fairly recently (including China), has recently purchased and upgraded a number of luxury recreational items (motorcycles, expensive car, remote controlled airplanes) and lives in a very upscale property. Lack of finances do not appear to be an issue.
I asked two other writers, both members of the very highly regarded professional group Society of American Travel Writers, about their experiences working for Wil Byers/Kiona Publishing/Mid-Columbian/Inland NW. Each of them have indicated that they are owed several hundreds of dollars for their labor, with one indicating a payment that is over a year overdue. They further advised that Byers also commonly promises one rate of pay when soliciting work from writers, then after the work has been completed and published he will arbitrarily pay the writer a lower rate than promised, that is, if the worker is paid at all.
Last week, I was surprised to receive an unsolicited message from a Mid-Columbian writer who noticed my byline in the magazine. The writer has not been paid for work that appeared in the magazine in 2009, and contacted me to ask if Id had similar problems. Therefore, without aggressive research, I am now aware of three other workers who are experiencing payment problems with Wil Byers and Kiona Publishing.