So how much money for your story do newspapers and magazines really pay out?
The truth is that often only an editor, and the interviewee (and their agent or publicist) will be privy to the amount paid. And it can be much more money or much less money than is reported.
But it's also true that stories that every national paper and magazine are after can command very high sums of cash indeed.
So what are the most expensive type of stories? Well, here's my pecking order of stories in roughly ascending order of price.
At the top ...
Scandals or a shocking scoop involving members of the royal family or top government figures.
Next come A list celebrities - and in fact the rights to print the first exclusive photos of a wedding of a top A lister can command huge sums of money, especially from celebrity magazines.
Any scandals involving lesser celebrities, or people in the public eye, such as MPs or heads of organisations.
After celebrities, come stories where ordinary people will suddenly find themselves at the centre of a media storm.
They might become involved in a huge court case. They might be the relative of a notorious murderer. They might have involved themselves in something incredibly controversial - having twins at the age of 70 or having the world's first truly designer made to order baby. Other people might find themselves the victim of an incredible con or something amazingly bizarre (such as the men who took part in medical trials that went horrifically wrong.) In all these stories, only one person can truly tell how it was and that is why their story is so sought after.
Relationship stories are also very popular. Victims of a bigamist, women whose husbands ran off with their bridesmaid or their best friend. Older women who marry toyboys. These stories are particularly sought after by women's magazines.
Then there's quirky and bizarre stories. Or simply emotional ones. For example, parents who want to tell their stories about their child overcoming an illness - often with these it isn't so much about the money but more about gaining awareness and helping others.
However, ultimately, the amount paid will be how much any editor wants your story. And until you speak to editors, it is hard to predict how well some stories will sell. Truthfully, some stories won't sell for as much as you think whilst others will catch a couple of editors' imaginations and the story price will be pushed up because several want to buy the story.
This is why I believe it is always best to find an agent to sell your story. This is particularly important if you are receiving several offers from different newspapers, magazines or press agencies. Then you need an expert to sort out the best deal. But even the smallest stories can benefit from a press agent. Anyone selling their story can make more money by seeking advice from an independent expert. This should be someone who is experienced enough to send your story to several editors, who knows the stories that are currently sought after and who can guage how keen editors really are.
Alison Smith-Squire is an ethical media agent and journalist who runs sell my story website Featureworld, specialising in selling a story safely for the ordinary person.