Some people think being a freelance writer is a dream job. You set your own hours. Write about fascinating topics. Meet interesting people. Rake in the big bucks.

Did I say rake in the big bucks? Hardly. Most freelancers I know barely make minimum wage if you divide the amount of time it takes to write a publishable 1,000-word article.

But that’s OK. We choose this path because of our passion for words. Everything we see is a potential article or novel.

What gets me, though, are the publishers and editors who print our work–sometimes without our knowledge and permission–then refuse to pay our fee. They’re the ones putting the FREE in freelance. We may work cheap, but we’re definitely not free.

I continue to nag, cajole and beg some magazines to pay my modest fee. Some are slow payers. My only weapon is to refuse to send them any other manuscripts until they catch up on their past-dues.

I’m at a loss on how to get payment from those one-timers who use you in a pinch and now can’t seem to find the time to cut a check for $35. Many of these pubs don’t require contracts and the amounts are so small that incurring the expense for a certified letter seems impractical. On their web site, the American Society of Journalists and Authors offers a few suggestions.

Short of sending their names out into the universe as deadbeats, I’d love to hear how other freelancers deal with this issue.