I've just had a very bizarre exchange with Rodney Gedda from IDG, a big magazine and book publisher. I used to write for some IDG publications and was, briefly, editor of a micro-magazine they had, Online World which became Webmaster.
Anyway, Rodney opens with: I'm interested in running more technical content on IDG's online network. Please contact me if you are interested in contributing. I presume he'd found my writing on one of the Planets, probably after reading my comments about Joel Spolsky's latest piece.
A little flattered, and always wanting to keep my hand in IT journalism stuff, I followed it up with some questions and proposals. In my dealings with IDG in the past, I've been pretty shocked by what they insist you sign over before paying you, perpetual, universal rights basically. So I brought this up and he suggested IDG own the copy and I get "perpetual publicity and bragging rights". Hmmm.
I came straight out and asked if this was a paying gig. Unfrotunately I don't have a budget for that yet, but you'll get free publicity. Meh.
When I write for a corporation, I want a lot more than publicity. Some help paying the mortgage would be nice. You'd be using my knowledge, experience and work to enrich a giant corporation. Err, no. I don't think Patrick McGovern needs my charity.
Those of you out there also receiving offers like this, be aware that your work is worth something. At the minimum, you might use something like this to get your foot in the door and have some publications you can point to, but you certainly wouldn't be signing away perpetual and universal rights to your work!
For the record, my writing is available, for a fee.