This article is from the Natl Writers Union FAQ, by Vicki Richman firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Only 5000 words?
"Union scale" can be set only by collective bargaining
between publishers and a writers' union. As freelance
writers are contractors, we don't have complete protection
of the NLRA -- yet. The National Writers Union is working
toward reform of the publishing industry to include union
scale for freelancers.
For now, union members can ask their publishers to use the
NWU standard contract. The publisher may refuse at first,
but if enough writers insist, the publisher may have to
agree or put blank pages on the stands.
Also, the NWU has published its _Guide to Freelance Rates
and Standard Practice_. It does not attempt to set union
scale, but it gives writers an idea of what to expect. It's
available in most bookstores. Anyone can order a copy from
the NWU office; there is a discount for NWU members.
It would not be ethical to quote a price for any job without
collective bargaining. Fees vary among publications. The
circulation, the advertising and the intended audience all
affect the writer's pay, just as the size and location of a
theater affect an actor's salary. Our union hopes to
quantify the industry's sliding standards so that writers
will have a reasonable estimate of what their work is worth,
but we have an uphill struggle.
Therefore any dollar amount cited in this FAQ is for
illustration only. No standard rate is implied or should be