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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do You Know Your FOB, LOI, and TK? Publishing Terms Freelancers Should Know

Like any business, freelancing has its own lingo--and that can be confusing for new writers. Here are 13 terms freelancers should know: 


All-rights contract: Contract where the publication purchases all rights to a piece, preventing you from reprinting it or making any additional money from it in the future. All-rights  contracts are becoming the industry standard, but you can sometimes negotiate changes to them. (I have a whole chapter on contracts in Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets.) See work-for-hire.

Backup: The material you submit with a piece so that it can be fact-checked. This includes names and contact information for sources, links to online material, and copies of journal articles you cite or mention in a piece. See fact-checking. 

Clips: Short for clippings and refers to when writers actually cut their pieces out of newspapers or magazines. Refers to published samples of work, whether in print or online. 

Fact-checking: See backup. 

FOB: "Front of book," or the section of the publication that includes shorter, often news-driven items. A great place for new writers to break in.


Indemnification. Usually refers to a contract provision that requires writers to insure the publisher that the piece won't lead to legal claims. (Know what a fair one looks like? Check out the contracts chapter in Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets.) 

Lead/lede: The opening to an article or query letter. The most important section of your query--if you can't catch the editor's attention, he or she will stop reading. (Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition contains more than a dozen queries along with LOIs and other templates.) 

LOI: Letter of introduction. Another way to pitch a market; this focuses more on your background and experience than on pitching a particular idea the way you do with a query. 

On acceptance: a payment term that means you'll be paid when the story is accepted. See on publication.


On assignment: When an editor asks you to write a piece (e.g., an article or a blog post) on a specific topic for a specific amount of money by a specific deadline for a specific publication. Often the assignment is made in writing, but it can be verbal as well. (In this case, you'll want to follow up with an email confirming the details of your assignment.) 


On publication: a payment term that means you'll be paid when the piece is published. Freelancers prefer to be paid on acceptance, because you can't control when a piece will appear in print or online--or even if it's published yet.

On speculation: When an editor is willing to look at a piece you submit, but doesn't offer you a formal assignment. (See "on assignment.") Editors often ask inexperienced writers to write "on spec" as they're unproven, and this can be a great way to get your foot in the door if you're short on clips or experience. 

Query/query letter: A query or query letter is used to pitch an idea to a market. You can also "query" as a verb, as in "I queried her three weeks ago and just got a response." 

TK: a publishing term that means "to come." If an editor asks you to TK something, it means you need to double-check it or add missing information. I use TK when I'm writing a draft to remind myself that I need to fix or clean up a particular section or word. 

Work-for-hire: While legally different than an all-rights contract (technically only an employee can sign a work-for-hire agreement), it's a term for a contract that purchases all rights to a piece from the writer. 

**Got a publishing term or question for me? Email me at kelly at become body wise dot com or post a comment here and I'll be happy to answer! 

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