February 26, 2013

Never Write For Free

There are a lot of people out there who have ideas, visions, and dreams. They need you, they need your knowledge, and they need your words.

But they can’t pay.

Do you write anyway?

Let’s rephrase that. Have you, at any time, written for free because you’ve been led to believe that:

  • the opportunity of being published will reward itself
  • being published is a gateway to paid gigs
  • writing for free doesn’t cost you anything
  • the publisher will pay you later on

If you answered yes on any of these, I’m sorry to say you’ve been not only wasting your time, but possibly devalued yourself as a writer.

Do you know any carpenters that build houses for free, because someone might see their great house and give them a job?

Writing is a craft, and if you’re even halfway decent at it you should be paid when writing for someone else. It’s as simple as that.

Although it isn’t. As a freshly baked writer, you still need some sort of resume, something that can convince a publisher that you’re worth the money, that you know what a deadline is, and that you’re serious about your craft. Often you’ll get the feeling that you need to be published to actually get published.

So do you write for free, or do you trod on?

Here’s another angle: Every time you write for free, you might be stealing money from me. Maybe I wanted that gig, and would’ve gotten paid for it, but the publisher takes a chance on you because let’s face it, I’m bloody expensive and you give it away for free. You win, right?

Except you don’t, because said publisher will never pay you, you’re free now. So you don’t get paid, I don’t get paid, but the publisher soon realize that there are more like you out there, who work for free because it is the only way to get noticed, and thus we’re both out of work.

Writing is a craft. Charge for your words, one way or the other. You, me, and everyone else in this business deserves it.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.