Writing Isn’t Free

There are a lot of jobs available for writers. Unfortunately, many of them don’t pay. I don’t get it. America is all about money–we love the big cars, the latest fads. We go to movies and if we add popcorn and a drink, the price tag can easily add up to dinner for two in a decent restaurant.

writers blockSo why are all these writers jobs so low paying? It’s not a mystery, it’s because people want your talent for a small amount of money so they take the profit. Essentially, that’s what the writer’s strike is about.

Writers want to get paid when their work gets put in a different form–they write for shows, but want to be paid for their writing when it becomes another format for viewing: DVD, Internet, movies. When a DVD sells for $28, the writer will get about $0.04 of that. What they want is $0.08 of that. The comedian Tim Kazurinsky explains it quite well.

The same companies that told advertisers that they get millions of views and that the Internet was the next big market for their products, calmly turned around and told writers that there wasn’t any proof that writing works, and the person to take the hit for doubt had to be writers.

I’ve answered several internet ads for writers, but have yet to find one that pays decently, let alone well. One wanted me to produce a series of restaurant reviews, 8 per week (who eats out that much?) and write a 200-word review, with picture. The pay? I get to be published. I can publish myself and not pay myself, neatly cutting out the middleman.

Now my articles are getting picked up all the time, to fill the blogs of other writers, who are desperate to meet their goals. One such place offered to pay $0.12 per day, but they own the copyright. That was based on click-throughs per article, so I’d have to write a huge amount to make minimum wage.

As a writer, who has made a living from writing for most of my adult life, I’d like to pass on encouragement and a warning. Get paid for your work. Do not work for free. When you give it away, no one will respect you in the morning.

And the warning: Writing well is hard. You have to know grammar. You have to be able to think analytically. You have to be able to reason logically. Just because you can keyboard your thoughts doesn’t make you a good writer. Get paid what you are worth. Walk away from scams, underpayment and empty promises. You’ll respect yourself in the morning.

–Image: http://www.sheezyart.com

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007 All rights reserved.