Friday, June 15, 2007

A Few Things

I consider myself a new writer. Just trying to make it in the world today. Yes, sometimes it takes a lot.... Really, though I'm not. I've been doing the whole writing thing for quite some time. I just never had it technically published or was paid for it outright. I did a lot of technical manuals in my day. Data sheets, course catalogs and generally dry stuff. Before that, I wrote some pretty serious papers on the life of your average gilded age princess, the civil war and how it affected women, and the every day life of the 19th Century person. I wrote some pretty kick ass stuff as I was told in not those exact words. I have talent. A passion and gift for writing.

Ok fine. So here I am actually trying to make a living from it and I'm pissed. I get really angry when I see ads on job boards for things like this-

"need 30 (yes, 30) 500 word articles with extensive research done (no topic given) in 8-10 hours. No errors, must be perfect for print. (hmm... so what if it's not on the topic that isn't even assigned?) English MUST be native language. (ooh bonus points for me! I talk me some good Unglish!) Will pay $1 per article."

WTF!!!!! First I'm asked to write on whatever. I'm going to go with how a banana ripens quickly. That seems fair. I'll write 500 compelling words on that and do 29 more pieces exactly like that. I'll just stick with fruit. Why the hell not! I must do all these with extensive research going into them in 8-10 hours. Whew!

Writing sweat shop anyone?! Because that is exactly what these ads are. 8-10 hours of work for thirty puny ones. I can't even buy an outfit at Old Navy for that. That won't fill the tank of my car! It enrages me that there is a system out there that reduces the craft of writing to that type of shit. Why not just say, "write for me for free dumbass". I'm not even going to go into the ads on Craigslist that ask for full feature articles for magazines with no compensation. They always advertise that they are great for new writers.

This "new" writer thing can really suck when it's put to you this way. It more than sucks. It pisses me off to no end. It is an act of futility that sucks the life out of my writing mojo. Now I'm going to go about my business of querying magazines and newspapers, you know places that actually pay, because they know that not just anyone can be a writer. Especially with a screaming banshee of a toddler racing around the room at ninety miles an hour hurling hard plastic objects at you. Thirty my ass, I should get combat pay.

Check out this post here for a laugh and some added venom. I agree.


  1. Do you use Writers' Market for publishing info? I've always found that book helpful. Once I figured out how to use it.

    Editing ads are the same. High-quality work for little pay. It really bugs me, especially when I was a manager who had to tell hopeful proofreaders just how lousy the salaray was.

  2. I always warn "new writers" not to accept this sort of no or ridiculously low pay...unless it is for a non-profit you believe in.

    The sort of ads you mentioned is what made me write up some tips for real beginners who are just starting out:

    I don't want anyone genuinely trying to launch a writing career, especially not the SAHM/WAHM moms, getting taken advantage of!

    I get about $40-50/hr for most gigs and about 25 cents a word for some of the magazines. I haven't tried querying the higher paying magazines yet because I have been swamped.

    Lifetips is good for copywriting jobs--they pay a fair rate.

    Good luck with your querying and thank you for spreading the word to all the new writers that they should not sell themselves short.


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