04 May, 2016

US cheque challenge

Last week I learned something new about American cheques, via comments on my FB page about how Americans vs Australians say numbers in their hundreds (Australians and some Americans add an "and" between the hundreds and tens or less, some Americans don't). The new thing is that when they write out the amount in full, they use fractions for the cents. Not "fifty-five dollars and sixty cents" but "fifty-five dollars and 55/100 dollars"!

And behold, an American cheque arrived on in my mailbox on Monday! That is a rare occurrence. Actually I can't remember last time we received a cheque in Japan. It's a problem, because Japanese don't use personal cheques and banks don't like to accept them. They charge a large processing fee (this webpage suggests about 1,000 yen or about US$9.30). When it is just a US$20 dollar cheque it just isn't worth it.

There were more complications about this cheque. It is for a meditation that I wrote and submitted two years ago, April 2014! But it wasn't the first place I'd submitted this mediation to. I sent it to another organisation in January, four months earlier and not heard from them. That group has published my writing before and generally if you haven't heard from them after a couple of months you can be sure that they've not accepted your submission. However I jumped the gun this time. In June, two months after submitting a slightly rewritten meditation to the second group, the original organisation wrote to me and said they might publish it!

I'll save you the gory details, suffice to say that both organisations have or will publish my meditation this calendar year! One in February, the other in the northern hemisphere's "Fall".

That might not seem to be a problem initially, if you're not a writer, especially as both organisations pay for published work. However there are rights issues here. There is such a thing as "first rights" and it means that the work they are publishing hasn't been previously published elsewhere. Both groups assumed that this was the first time this piece had been published. Not unreasonably as that is the condition on which you submit. However things had gotten a bit knotty.

So yesterday I looked at what I submitted again to see whether the rewrite I did in April 2014 was sufficiently changed to allow it to qualify as a "first write" and it wasn't, they are clearly the same article, with a few changes in wording here and there. Then I wrote to the publishing group telling them what had happened and that I didn't think I could accept payment from them.

They wrote back promptly telling me not to worry, that the material was at the printer already and that they'd still pay me for first rights. We came to a compromise on the cheque too, I have to post it back and they'll pay me via the US branch of our mission, who can accept US cheques. I'm thankful for their forgiving attitude towards my mistake. But so far in my writing career I've earned less than $100 over the last five years . . . I don't think I'll going full-time as a writer anytime soon.

Admittedly the only "mission" related thing here is the cheque problem. I could easily have had the same problem from Australia. 

This whole thing is a bit of a challenge for a writer, though. This organisation says that they'll let you know in two to three months if they aren't going to use your work (opposite to the other group), but I received a rejection from them in February for another piece I submitted to them, 22 months after I submitted it! Obviously I need to be a little less trigger-happy with my re-submission of article. Or perhaps a little more vigorous in rewrites?

1 comment:

Georgia said...

Actually writing a check in the US is becoming a lost art - with or without "ands" or fractions of a dollar. Young people generally open a bank account and only get a "check card" which allows them to get cash from 24-hr. ATMs. or to pay at the register in stores like a credit card. They have their paychecks direct deposited to their bank. I regularly have my bank send checks to pay my bills, and can manage that from here in Japan.