As much as I would like to address this to those publishers that are a problem, such things fall on deaf ears. So instead I want to address this to a certain subset of freelancers: those who don’t need the money.
I know quite a few freelancers who just enjoy doing work in a field, and have a great day job or spouse or both, and don’t care about the money they’re getting from some project they’re on. As a result, they don’t put effort into making sure things like contracts are delivered or payment is even relatively prompt.
But from the perspective of publishers who are forming how they’re doing business, what you’re doing hurts your colleagues who do depend on this for money, as there’s no difference to them between freelancers who need the money and freelancers who don’t. Those who do, those who have to struggle to invoke Fuck You, Pay Me, we looks like chumps because we’re sitting alongside you, who isn’t asking for that.
So if you want to help your fellow freelancers, chase after contracts and payment. Help us out by being a constant reminder of that, and of helping us being a unified force — one that doesn’t create incentives to continue hiring people who don’t need the money, and force unscrupulous publishers to shape up or dry up.
(There’s a related post somewhere in me about those freelancers who need the money but are timid about it.)