Getting Paid

dollarsDo you want to get paid for your written works?

I don’t.

Before you rip me a new one, let me explain.

I, personally, don’t care if I get paid for my writing. Sure, money would be nice. Hell, winning the lottery would be nice. But I have a good job. Not only do I enjoy what I do for a living, but I also get along with my co-workers rather well. In addition, I get excellent benefits, regular pay raises and a bonus.

(Oh, by the way, the scare of losing my job has passed. We made it!)

Regardless of whether my job is in jeopardy or not, I (personally) still wouldn’t expect to get paid for my writing.

There’s no weird psychosis going on here, folks. Believe me, if someone got it in their head to pay me for a story, I’d take it. I would not subsequently lose interest in my writing, because someone decides to pay me for it. (H/T The Blue Candle Society).

But I wouldn’t expect it.

The reason?

This: I’m not qualified.

If you compare any of my stories with writers that are making a living from writing, you’d see a very distinct difference. It is called experience and training, which invariably looks a lot like a professional product. Funny thing, I have loads of experience and training in my real job and, lo and behold, I am quite a professional. Good for me!

I like to write (badly) and I do want to share what I write, so that’s what I plan to do. Share my work. And since I know it is not up to anyone’s standard, I’ll probably offer it for free.

(ducks incoming rotten tomatoes)

Am I lowering the bar for all writers out there? Am I flooding the market with crap?

Yup and yup.

I don’t mean to, but writing is my hobby, and, well, it would be nice to share it. It’s like hobby painters. You wouldn’t tell them not to paint their generic, sloppy landscape scenes and sell them at flea markets, would you?

Every writer’s journey is different. Those who plan to become professional novelists should demand decent pay for their work, and get it. They shouldn’t have to put up with publishing contracts that are glorified vanity-press deals, nor should an experienced journalist write for exposure.

But for those of us out here that view writing as a hobby, we shouldn’t feel bad about offering our stuff for free. I think the public can tell the difference between our efforts and the real thing. And where that distinction starts to blur, well, that probably means that particular product is getting up to standard, and should be priced accordingly. I have faith the market will ensure that professional writers get fair deals – as long as we, as readers, are willing to support them.

So what am I saying?

Stop reading hacks like me and check out Michael J. Sullivan‘s Kickstarter project! Hollow World is very much worth your support. His career is a fine example of readers showing the market where they want to spend their money.

Until later, get paid.


23 thoughts on “Getting Paid

  1. Here’s hoping you never get a cent for your writing! Oh, wait… that did’t come out right… 🙂

    Seriously, I get what you’re saying. I think that’s why so many of us like keeping blogs. We don’t see any money off of them — it’s just nice to connect with people. And I think keeping your material cheap or free is a great idea to get it out there. People are usually only willing to pay (at least anything over $3) when they feel confident in the quality they’re about to get. An unknown author is going to have a hard time with that.

    1. That gives me an excellent idea! Maybe I’ll release my novel here, on my blog. Why not?

      I agree that connecting to readers is one reason why I write my blog. If you all didn’t comment, I probably wouldn’t keep writing.

  2. Glad to hear the job looks good; that must be a huge relief.

    I understand where you are coming from and am all for reasonable goals. However, you might find that after years of hobby-practice your skills will have developed into the professional range, so perhaps this may turn out to be the near term, not long term? But if not, we all need our hobbies 🙂

    My personal view is similar but a little different. I would like to make money at writing eventually. Not a lot, but a supplement as my professional career winds-down in 15-20 years (and I would love it if my writing could make it 15 rather than 20). Near term, I will treat it as a business but there’s enough out there on how the median, new published author does (return: $0) that for now, the focus is on developing my skills and building a brand (and even that I’m not in a rush for.)

    1. See now, there’s what I am saying is different from a struggling writer (like yourself) and a hobby writer (like me). I haven’t taken the time to chart out my writing career. I have yearly goals, and a few random dreams, but essentially, I figure I’ll just write stories and throw them out there. At the moment, while I am learning to write well, I think I’ll leave it to that. But as I inch my way along, maybe I’ll come up with a plan like yours.

      Good luck with yours!

  3. i understand completely and find myself echoing your words on more occasions than i care to recall. it’s not so much as i don’t give a **** for the financial “rewards” as such, but that no one will ever appreciate what it is you’re trying to convey if they only appreciate your work based on the monetary gains received from them (professional or amateur/hobby) and in that regard; no, ‘getting paid’ beomes a subjective matter – one i at various times have both smiled and sneered at – if you get my drift (as it were) – besides “isn’t the pursuit of an ‘idea’ far better than actually ‘capturing’ said ‘idea’? sigh, “stay thirsty my friend”

    1. Ah, well said, ws. Is it the journey I’m after or the end game? And just what is the end game? A lot of folks think it is a career in writing or making lots of money from their art. But that feels false to me.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great when one can make a career from their art, but not all of us are on that path. Thanks for the comment!

      1. it is indeed a path that will lead to the emerald city of oz my friend; just where that city -truly- exists is left to the imagination of the traveler as does the “rewards” therein.
        enjoy the journey

  4. I hear you… and this is coming from somebody aggressively pursuing getting paid for his writing. I guess I am at a distinct disadvantage as being one of the “credit crunch” graduates – highly qualified and in a soul-destroying dead-end job with no hope of getting out in the near future.

    My qualifications are going to waste and I’m damned if I let my talents as a writer go to waste too. So I’m doing the best thing I possibly can – taking that leap to see if I have what it takes and maybe, somebody might pay me to write about what I should have been practising. That and the personal fulfillment of being self-employed is very attractive right now. The opportunity to kill two birds with one stone? I’m at the front of the queue 🙂

    At the end of the day, if you enjoy writing and would rather keep it as a hobby then I tip my hat to you and nobody should tell you that you ought to be doing otherwise!

  5. Personally, I’m not so worried about getting paid per se (since the chances of my making an hourly rate at writing better than my day job are slim, to say the least). But while I write mainly for my own satisfaction, the more people that read what I write the more satisfying I find it. And I think money not only correlates with readership, I suspect that in many cases the relationship goes in both directions (that is, you get more money if you have more readers, but you also get more readers if someone is charging for what you write).

  6. I can appreciate your stance, Nila. It’s certainly not for everybody, and really, you might just stay sane if you keep it as a hobby!

    It’s definitely a career goal for me, and while I wouldn’t suggest that my writing looks any more professional than anyone else’s, the point is that if you can hone a talent out of what many consider a ‘hobby’, and make a career out of a passion, why not pursue it?

    It doesn’t matter if the chances are slim. That’s why I write fantasy and science-fiction. 🙂

  7. Everyone has their own motivations for writing or any other art. It’s good that you’ve thought about what you want to get out of it. But, I also hear a thread of self-doubt in your words. (Flooding the market with crap? Yikes!)

    All writers have to struggle with the fear that our chicken scratchings really aren’t worth anything. I urge you to consider entering a few contests now and then, especially the ones without entry fees. You might find out that your stuff really IS the real thing.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Deby! I do submit my work from time to time to paying markets, and all my stories have all been rejected. Some of my stories have been accepted by non-paying markets. I think that tells me where I stand. My stuff is kind of crappy, but I also know I have improved tremendously and do so every day. 🙂

      1. I’m curious what you mean by “from time to time”. Most of the real short story publishing machines I know seem to succeed in part by just deluging the market (which is also how they occasionally get three rejections in a single day). Considering even semi-pro markets get a few hundred submissions for every one they publish, the only thing standing between you and a payday of, oh dozens of dollars may be volume.

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