What are my legal optionsif someone will not pay me for a freelance editing project?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2011

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What are my legal optionsif someone will not pay me for a freelance editing project?

I began helping someone with editing a book they are writing. After I was 1/3 of the way complete I submitted my first invoice. I have not heard back from them in over a month, and have sent several emails. Previously, we had many email conversations where I was told how happy they were with the work and would be paying me by a certain date, and had more work they needed done. Do I have any legal options, or do you have any suggestions of how I can get paid?

Asked on December 16, 2011 under Business Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you are not being paid for work done per an agreement, you may sue the other party--that is how you would obtain payment. Contracts, including oral agreements and onces evidenced by emails, are enforceable. (Depending on the terms of the contract, you may even be able to sue for the full amount due, not just the work done to date--for example, if the contract was firm that you would get the entire project and did not give the writer the right to stop in midstream.) For smaller amounts, you may wish to sue in small claims court, where you can represent yourself (and save on lawyer fees); for larger amounts, it would be best to hire an attorney.

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