How To Deal With Writers

Professional fiction writer Ray Garton just did a wonderful article about how to deal with writers. And I agree completely.

Fun and worth the read at Ray Garton’s blog.

This entry was posted in On Writing, publishing, Recommended Reading and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to How To Deal With Writers

  1. Dean, thanks for the link to this article. Sometimes, I think I’ve sold myself short in the past with freelance work (articles). It’s nuts how little people looking for web content, SEO articles, short ebooks, want to charge. They say they have shoestring budgets and can barely afford to pay writers peanuts. (i.e. $5-10 for a 500 word article). I did some of that early on because I kept thinking, I would be able to charge more later on.

    That was a black hole that kept me in part-time web writing for longer than I like to admit. I’ve gotten paid decently for some projects along the way, but necessity had me take jobs much lower than I would had like, especially with my developing skills as a writer. Those kind of buyers simply thought it was okay to offer so little…the sad fact was that many writers jumped on board. Plus, there were writing teams that took bulk article projects where they were probably making a little more but certainly not enough for the time investment to produce so much.

    This has started to change since I was able to focus more heavily on writing books. I’ve co-authored four now. The pay still could be higher but I hope I can find some better arrangements and also continue to produce books and stories that can be indie published. I want to make a living at this. I think I deserve to be paid fairly for the work that I do.

  2. John Walters says:

    Thanks for the link. Very inspirational. It reminds me of something I saw once on YouTube – Harlan Ellison was being interviewed and began expostulating about writers getting paid for their work. Not sure how to find it but worth it if you can.

  3. A high school friend contacted me for her small business and asked if I could help with some technical writing. I have a lot of experience doing it in the software field, so I said sure. Even though she was a good friend in high school, and even though I love her to pieces, I said these are my rates. Now, I cut her a deal because she is my friend, but her company still needed to pay me.

    Writers are part of the problem. We don’t ask plumbers to come to our house to work for free. Why do we let businesses use us for free?

    If I work for free, it’s because I’ve made a decision to do it. I’ve chosen to work for free. Maybe it’s a fundraiser. Maybe it’s a group getting off the group and I want to give them a hand. Maybe it’s a person who once pulled my unconscious body from a burning building. It doesn’t matter. It’s my decision and no one should be making it for me.

  4. Ramon Terrell says:

    Yeah I laughed when I read that. So true. You know what amazes me though is the amount of people that don’t think the entertainment field is work. I got into a debate with a friend of mine, (highly pragmatic physician assistant) and he is the same. Since it’s something we would do in our spare time for free anyway, it’s not really work.

    It just baffles my mind.

  5. Kort says:

    This is something I learned when I was making costumes for people. They thought, since I needed the money, I’d be willing to cut them a deal after the work was done. I got so sick of it, I’ve pretty much stopped working for anybody who doesn’t pay the whole thing up front. (I used to require half plus materials up front but I’ve gotten burned bad so no more.)

    I am a professional and will be paid for my services. Having trouble with your car and need the money to take care of it? F you, pay me. Funds are a little tight? F you, pay me. Oh, we’re friends? F you, pay me or we’re not. You can get me publicity? Great, pay me.

    Don’t remember who said it but a person can die from exposure.

  6. John Walters says:

    Yes, yes, Martin, that’s the one I was thinking of. A great rant! And, as Dean said, obligatory for every writer. By the way, the entire documentary “Dreams With Sharp Teeth” not only is very entertaining but has a lot a writer can learn from the master of the game Harlan Ellison.

  7. Barb Hendee says:

    This was fun–and true.

    My favorite lines:

    “First of all, I already have a family, and they fucked me up beyond repair. I don’t need another one. And if I decide to find one, I certainly won’t build it around a business transaction.”

    Hah! Absolutely.

  8. Mark says:

    In some ways it’s just global economics at work. That SEO writing that doesn’t pay anything pays so little because writers in India and Bangledesh and other countries like that are willing to work for those rates, and those rates are actually decent rates in those countries.

    I also think a lot of people don’t value writing as a specialized talent. Anyone who went to college can write, some undoubtedly think. So hiring a writer is like hiring someone to do something you could do but don’t want to, like mowing your grass.

    Finally, all the bid sites for writers tend to drive down rates. You can stick to your guns but if you don’t have a strong portfolio and references, it can be tough.

  9. It looks like “Dreams With Sharp Teeth” is free to watch for Amazon Prime members. I’ll have to watch that when I get to my high speed connection. Thanks, John!

  10. Todd says:

    I had to re-check the by-line…

    …for a minute there I thought I was reading Harlan Ellison!


    P.S. His rant resonates in the world of screenwriting as well, where writers are treated like Kleenex. In fact, in the world of indie filmmaking, it’s not uncommon for NO ONE to be paid. And, believe it or not, there is one group that suffers even more than writers in this respect: Actors. It’s now become the norm to not pay actors for anything even approaching a low budget project. In fact, too often, actors will line up to AUDITION for a non-paying gig…

    …much the way screenwriters will “audition” for a writing assignment by coming up with a detailed story outline, or even a full treatment…

    …all for no pay.

    And of course, judging by what passes for entertainment now, you get what you pay for.

  11. Mercy Loomis says:

    Oddly, my husband runs into this more than I do. He’s always having people ask him to fix their computers or help them build a new one or hook up their computer to their TV. He’s gotten a lot more picky about saying yes over the years, but he used to say yes all the time. And people took hella advantage of it.

    Now he’s more like Dilbert.

    Usually doesn’t ask for cash, but whiskey and future favors are not unusual. (He has bad arthritis and needs help fixing things around the house sometimes.)

  12. Russ Crossley says:

    A little crude perhaps, but true. I’ve had several of these approaches as well, clearly not as many as Ray, but I don’t know too many people who work for free except as volunteers in various causes they believe in. I’ve certainly been a volunteer worker, but as Krista said I knew this going in.

    I do not do my writing work for free. I see no reason to. I’m a professional writer and expect to be paid reasonable compensation.

    I’m actually miffed by publications who offer me very low rates for anthologies or stories. A short story in an anthology that pays $50 is an insult. Especially these days when I can reach all over the world and potentially make far more than $50 for a short story and retain control of the copyright.

    Publishers have to get real if they expect to survive in this new world.

  13. Blarkon says:

    A lot of the cultural change against paying writers comes from the “Open Source” movement for software development. There are very influential vocal minority within that movement who (a) believe that all code should be open source and (b) don’t believe that a software developer should charge for writing open writing code (though it’s fine if they are paid by someone else to write the code as long as they don’t charge third parties for the code). According to this influential vocal minority – It’s okay to charge for support – but not for the software itself (also that they should be able to modify and redistribute your software). That’s part of the reason why Google’s Android operating system is free.

    There’s also a lot of contempt for content creators within Silicon Valley where there is a strong belief that making money on kindles/ebook readers is legitimate (because they are physical objects and can’t be infinitely replicated) – but that making money on digital content is illegitimate (the usual argument being that if you can make infinite copies of something, it’s value approaches zero, therefore you shouldn’t have to pay for it – you hear this argument justifying piracy).

    All these arguments are bollocks of course – but that’s the landscape that creators find themselves in these days.

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