One Writer’s Journey

April 11, 2014

How Much Should I Earn: Or Whether or Not I Should Give Away My Writing

paymentI’m always surprised by the number of markets who expect writers to work for copies.  Yes, copies and bylines mean experience, but I can’t take copies and bylines to the grocery store and come way with enough to feed my family even a nibble.  That takes cash.  Still there are things that I do for free.  Here are some things that I consider when I’m asked to work for free.

  • Is this a charity or a not-for-profit?  If an organization that I believe in asked me to write an article, I would consider it.  Yes, even if they wanted to me to write for free.  There are just certain causes  and groups (Habitat for Humanity, Hiefer International and various social justice organizations) that I am willing to support.  I believe in what they do.  I would be proud to have my name associated with them.
  • Is there a byline?  If I don’t get money, I’m counting on that byline.  A byline in a public enough place means free advertising.  If it gets my name in front of enough people, then it is worth my while.
  • Does the illustrator also work for free?  I have actually had journals approach me and want to use my work but then explain that I would have to work for free. Why?  Because they can’t afford to pay the writers after they pay the photographers.  Whoa.  You can pay the photographer, but you can’t pay me?  That’s just not logical and I’ve consistently said no to these requests.
  • Does the market listing say they pay?  One time and one time only, my work appeared in a peer reviewed journal.  Later I saw a market listing for this same journal.  Surprise!  The market listing not only said that they paid but that they paid well.  To say that this hacked me off is a bit of an understatement.

It isn’t that I won’t work for free but there are only so many hours in the day.  For more on pay rates and making sure it is worth my while, see tomorrow’s post at the Muffin.




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