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How to Land Your Own Column

Mary Rose Remington – Oh, what a perfect question. The going rate is everything from zero dollars to, it could a $1,000 or more, again, depending upon if you’re self-syndicated or syndicated. It depends upon who you are and name recognition, what you have to offer, whether or not there are any other columnists who can do what you are doing. Again, my friend Mary Carol Moore was making, I think, $250-300. I have another friend, Amy Lindgren, who writes a career column for Knight Ridder, and I think she was around $400-500 at one time, and then there were budget cuts, so she’s kind of bounced around, but she actually has a practice and uses her column solely for the publicity, so she’s sort of doing that and the money is extra. Assume everything is negotiable. What I learned, I think it was from one of your teleseminars, Dan, somebody said the first person to talk loses.

Dan Janal – I’ve heard that.

Mary Rose Remington – I’ve got a client right now who’s negotiating and I said a simple question, ask the editor how much do you normally pay your columnists because you could totally low ball yourself and start in say, “Okay, I’d like $100,” and they normally pay $200. Ask the editor, “How much do you normally pay?” and then silence is so wonderful. If you just let them sit and squirm and there’s silence, they’re going to talk themselves up because it’s just human nature to not be comfortable with that silence. Or you could say something like, “I was thinking higher. Is there any wiggle room on that,” could they cover your expenses if they’re not going to cover, for instance they just don’t have more money for the column itself—phone bills, travel, any things you buy that you want to write about. I usually tell people, why don’t you just go see what you can do, because usually you’re dealing with somebody who has to get approval from somebody else.

Don’t be afraid to use a sense of humor. I have three teenagers and I…sometimes they were just totally true…I’d say, “You know what, my kids have gotten used to eating every day. Could you up that rate a little bit?” Eighty percent of the time that I asked for more money I’d get more money. You have to go into this deciding what’s it worth, how much time is it going to take. It’s going to take you more time in the beginning than at the end. I can whip off a column in an hour or two now, but in the beginning, I’m sort of embarrassed, I’ll bet I spent eight or ten hours sometimes because I was just so new to it.

Dan Janal – Do you have any other tips on negotiating? You gave a couple of really good ones there; I’m just wondering if you have any others?

Mary Rose Remington – Knowing your low figure going in. Then here’s another good tip, is to sleep on it or tell them you’ll get back to them. You need to recognize that the most powerful time that you have for this whole negotiation is when they have read your work, when they are getting back to you, and when they say that they want it or they want you. Another idea might be to say, “Well, I’ll start it this time, but in the next budget, could you put me in for more.” A lot of you are into sales and that kind of thing. It’s the same kind of principles that work in this, too, but kind of having a low figure that you won’t go under and I guess being willing to walk away. If they won’t pay you well, there’s somebody else around the corner who will.

Dan Janal – I’m sure there are a number of people listening today who would do it for free if they could get their name in the newspaper on a regular basis. The real payback for that is in the extended byline. Can you tell us a little bit more about what an extended byline is and what should be included in that?

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