15Seconds WebLog

April 2004 - Posts

They Won't Publish It And Won't Pay Me!

Developers are busy enough that they shouldn't have to worry about  a publisher green-lighting an article proposal and then not publishing the finished article.

Writers are usually expected to sign a contract before they start an article, and it most likely won't obligate a publisher to publish the article. One item,  however, which should exist in every contract, is a “kill fee“. A kill fee is where the publisher agrees to pay a percentage of the negotiated fee to the author if the publisher decides not to use the completed and submitted article (as long as the writer has honored the other terms of the contract).

There is no industry standard kill fee rate. It varies from publisher to publisher. Usually kill fees are equal to or less than 50% of the provided fee. Along with the kill fee, all article rights should immediately revert back to the author.

Kill fees are a nice way to help ensure that writers get paid something for their hard work and that the publisher's intentions are honest.

English or Programming? What's More Important?

Good developers may be hesitant to tackle article writing because they feel their English language skills aren't up to par.

This should not stop them from trying their hand at writing. Any competent editor should be able to work with a writer to correct and clarify the article. With that said, no content manager should post an article if he is not willing to edit the article or cannot recognize poor English. I've read published technical articles that have not been edited (I assume), and they do reflect the quality and credibility of the publication.

From my experience, what's most valuable to many article readers is the accompanying source code; therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the code be sound. The article should be used as a way to prove the quality of the code. The question “why?” should always be answered in the article when describing the development process and code implementation.

As long as the developer can adequately defend his code and process in the accepted article, he should expect that the editor will work with him to make sure his thoughts are conveyed as precisely and clearly as possible.

For developers (and content managers) who would like to hone their English language skills, I recommend Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.

Ah. I also see Rob Chartier has posted  a link to an English grammar quiz in his blog. Go for it!

One last thought:

Page 23 Meme

I'm in...

The meme works like this:

     Grab the nearest book. Open the book to page 23. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Here's mine:

“Vigorous writing is concise.“

From: “The Elements of Style” Third Edition, Strunk and White

Required to Write Articles?

On occasion, I'll receive e-mails from potential authors saying that they would like to write a few articles because their job requires it.

A corporate writing policy seems to make perfect sense. Writing articles is a quick way to promote a business, establish credibility and visibility among staff, and provide clients/customers with additional documentation.  And if the articles are negotiated on a paid basis, it's a nice, expense-free way for developers to earn some extra cash.

I'm not sure how widespread and detailed corporate writing policies are, but they may be worth examining and implementing at some level.

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