In the long period I've been a freelancer, I've noticed a striking difference between Indian and foreign publications. When chaps from abroad ask me to write, they always provide the basic information I need to make up my mind. By basic information I'm speaking of the subject, the word length, the deadline and the payment. Indian editors, on the other hand, invariably act coy about money. I can't recall a single commissioning editor who provided me with all important details in the initial approach. Recently, I've written for Take On Art magazine and Outlook Traveller; have accepted assignments from Caravan and Tehelka; and rejected proposals from three or four other publications. In every single case, it was left up to me to ask what I was going to be paid.
The reluctance to discuss fees stems, I suppose, from the fact that most magazines and newspapers these days pay very poorly. Still, since the issue's going to come up at some point, why not just get it over with right at the start?