Writers! Our blog, The Airship, is looking for contributors!

We here at The Airship are always looking for 500 to 1,200-word blog posts that capture the essence of great storytelling or explore outstanding examples of it. And yes, we do pay our writers!

Did you visit the private prison of an infamous drug lord? Was someone murdered in your home? Has your life eerily wrapped around that of a now little-known celebrity?

Alternatively: Have you surveyed the grotesque history of book burnings? Are you dying to translate great novels into practical New Year’s resolutions? Can you pack tomes of dense philosophy into pithy one-liners?

Great! Now can you write about it in a succinct, entertaining way? If the answer is still yes, well then you’re the person we’ve been looking for! (We’re so glad to have found you!)

Send your pitches or complete personal narratives, articles and essays about anything relating to great storytelling (including — but not limited to — literature, books and writers) directly to our editor at Arv@AirshipDaily.com, and we can discuss the subject, length and rates.

I actually think it would be possible for old-school print outlets to pay better if they wouldn’t over-assign or if they didn’t have super-fancy real estate in Midtown. The notion that media is both a struggling industry and a glamour profession is totally ridiculous. If you’re a struggling industry that’s worried about declining advertising revenues, fucking pack up, move to Brooklyn, and stop triple-assigning every issue.
—  I talked to Noah Davis at The Awl about the media business.
Are we there yet?

You may have noticed things have been quiet around Who Pays Writers? lately, and that’s not because I fell off of posting again. It’s because I have been hard at work redesigning the website and database! Seriously, y’all, the new site will be SO much better. It’s being created by our brilliant allies at the Compensation Foundation and funded by generous donors.

The new Who Pays Writers? site will be responsive, easy to read, and FULLY SEARCHABLE. The redesign makes it much easier for writers to report rates, and it has features that allow you to report not only who pays writers and how much, but when you got paid, and how difficult it was to actually get your money. It’ll launch with more than a thousand publications already listed; going forward, rates will be posted to the site in a timely fashion after they’re reported by users. (Rates will also post automatically here on Tumblr and on Twitter.) 

The site also has an awesome new logo and masthead courtesy of @susie-c (who also paid for the lion’s share of the redesign with funds from her Patreon, so show her some love!). 

Seriously, you guys, it’s so cool, and it’s been so long coming. I am stoked. 

I’m currently testing the design and ironing out the wrinkles. It should only be a matter of weeks until the site is up and running (assuming Murphy doesn’t interrupt us with that icky Law of his). Onward!

Freelance Resources:

Here’s a few places that I have found helpful:

The Freelancer by Contently : Informative articles, tips, guidelines, etc. You can subscribe to their weekly emails which give you an overview of the best content from the site for that week. 

Scratch: Who Pays Writers? : An anonymous collection of what freelancers get paid and from whom. Often the submissions come with tips about pitching to that particular publication. They’re on twitter as well @WhoPaysWriters

ProBlogger Job Board : Exactly what it sounds like. I’ve gotten a few blogging gigs through here.

Happy writing!

This Week in Freelancing: The Ship That Takes Us to the Land of Better Jobs

Money earned this week: $877.64

Pieces written this week: 27

Want to read my latest Yearbook Office contribution? Here you go!

Do you like discussing bestselling personal finance books with one eyebrow skeptically raised? Join the Billfold Book Club, in which I will lead us all on a riotous discussion of Rich Dad Poor Dad. (Look, there’s a lot of solid advice in that book. And then there are the parts that are completely unhinged.)

So I’m on Contently now. It’s a great way to see all of my essays and first-person writing in one place. It is less of a good way to see my commercial writing, such as the pieces I do for Coupon Connections. 

Of course, any site like Contently which works by trawling the internet for articles with my name on them is going to completely miss the web copy, email campaigns, and ghostwriting work I do. 

And it’s going to grab my most popular article, I’m a Hack Writer who Writes 5,000 Words/Day for $20/Hr, and place it right at the top – even though that statistic is no longer true.

Now I write 3,000 words per day for $50 an hour, and, as I’m learning, even that is not considered a professional rate by Those In The Know.

I kinda got into a spat on a writing forum this week because I thought I was doing well. Going from $20/hr to $50/hr in just over a year is, like, a one hundred fifty percent raise

And then the real writers were all “Do you have any idea how you are lowballing yourself? Why are you settling for so little?" 

And I was "ummmmmmm… I didn’t think I was settling?”

There’s also the implied piece, which wasn’t a direct part of the forum argument but was maybe a concern, that my working for such a low rate makes conditions worse for everyone. I am the Gig Economy. I am the Cheerful Intern. I am the Stupid Millennial Ruining Everything, even though I am actually in the very last year of Generation X, thank you very much.

So yeah. I shouldn’t be happy that I’m earning $50/hr. I should be building a ship out of twigs and paddling it as fast as I can to the Land of Better Jobs, where they pay $150 an hour, or a dollar a word.

One thing you learn very quickly as an adult is that there are multiple realities. In fact, the very first thing I did after I finished that forum discussion was subscribe to Scratch Magazine, because I had been reading their free articles and their Who Pays Writers blog for months and because that magazine told stories from the reality I recognized

In that reality, writers who earn around $40K a year are doing pretty well for themselves. I feel like that’s The Billfold’s reality, too. That community and its concerns make sense to me because they are also my concerns.

But I’m starting to understand that there is another reality out there. One where people refuse to work for a mere $50/hr. Markets where I can ask for a dollar a word.

I have no idea how to get there. I also have no idea how working in that reality might change me. But the Land of Better Jobs is out there, if I am willing to build the ship.

It is with a mixture of regret (the feeling I would like to project) and unrestrained joy (my actual feeling) that I would like to announce that I am now charging a $3.00 processing fee for all new subscription requests sent to me by literary magazines. The proliferation of literary magazines has forced me to implement this fee. How else can I be expected to sift through all of the possible titles?
—  Chris Haven, “Announcing a New Reader Tax.”
Who runs 'Who Pays Interns?'

It’s a good question. For the last two years or so, the answer has been no one.

I created this tumblr in May 2013 when I was finishing my junior year at Columbia and had difficulty finding paid media and journalism internships. At the time, I had already finished two unpaid internships. 

I saw Manjula Martin’s “Who Pays Writers?” tumblr, which tracked how much different publications paid freelance contributors, and wondered why something similar didn’t exist for internships. So I created one.

I surveyed some of my friends to see how much (if anything) they were getting paid at their media internships and then put out the call for tips. I received responses from dozens of current and former interns at newspapers, magazines, television networks, radio stations and digital media companies.

Since then, I’ve had two more internships — one unpaid and one paid — and been hired as a full-time media reporter for POLITICO. I haven’t had much time to update this site.

That’s why I’m handing things over to Addy Baird, a journalism student at NYU and (paid) intern at POLITICO. From now on, she’ll be in charge of the tumblr page and Twitter account. If you email whopaysinterns@gmail.com with tips (and please do!), she’ll be the one responding. I know she’ll do a great job.

But she can’t do it alone. As I’ve often said, “Who Pays Interns?” relies on tips. If you’re currently interning at a media company, please use our submission form or email us at whopaysinterns@gmail.com and let us know how much you’re getting paid. If you’re on staff at a media company and know how much your interns are getting paid, please let us know.

My goal has always been to create a helpful resource for people looking for media internships. Under Addy’s leadership, and with help from all of you, I know that “Who Pays Interns?” can continue to be that for many years to come.

- Peter Sterne, founder of “Who Pays Interns?”

Weekend Reading - Lessons of Hollywood, by Matthew Specktor

Lessons of Hollywood: On the Fate of “Middle Class” Art
by Matthew Specktor
The Millions
April 19, 2013

This personal essay by novelist Matthew Specktor is nominally about the movie industry and the business of lit-to-screen adaptations in the 1990s. It’s interesting perspective for anyone interested in economic decision-making in ‘big’ entertainment industries (publishing included) and the (perceived) stubbornness of 'old’ models:

I worked cheek-to-jowl with people in publishing, in fact my job had a great deal more to do with the world of publishing than it did with the world of film. I saw my bosses in Los Angeles a couple times per year. I spent every day on the phone with literary agents, all my free hours taking editors and writers to lunch, drinks, and dinner. I witnessed the rise of the “literary thriller,” and saw first hand the explosion, the wild proliferation of the gargantuan advance for stylish, usually young, writers unlikely to earn out. Just weeks before I started working for my two actors, Nicholas Evans’s  The Horse Whispererstirred up an enormous sensation by selling, on the basis of a slender proposal, for $3.15 million at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In other words, the book business, that fabled bastion of intellectual integrity, seemed to me to behave exactly as the film industry did. To be driven by hype, and hot air, and to involve the placement of outsized bets on individuals perhaps a little more glamorous than they were talented. It was the nature of business, and not even any particular business, that it be so.

Read the whole thing: http://www.themillions.com/2013/04/lessons-of-hollywood-on-the-fate-of-middle-class-art.html


Sometimes people will use the ‘ask’ function on Tumblr to ask us questions. Since these aren’t always anonymously 'asked’ in Tumblr’s system, we’ll sometimes republish them here with a call for crowd wisdom and/or our own commentary. Writers, please feel free to reply to these questions in a reblog or on Twitter, or to contact us directly with responses to post via the “submit” link on the top of the page. Thanks for sharing, friends.



Can you find out if Grantland pays its writers?
Anyone want to submit some rates for Grantland?


What about Coffin Factory?
Anyone? Bueller?


Something I’ve wondered throughout my writing career: why are pay rates such secrets? Why don’t publications put them out in the open?
Good question.


Huge fan of this Tumblr! Suggestion: include how many articles, on average, writers have had published in a given time period. (i.e. X a week/month at ________.)
Not sure this would be the most useful information, or easy/possible to keep track of; it’s probably more useful if folks submit the year they were paid a particular rate, the type of relationship they had with the publication (cold pitch, longstanding relationship), etc. We’ve certainly been thinking about the issue of context a lot with this project, and we are open to suggestions, but it seems rather difficult to quantify the experience and career “level” of writers. I don’t believe noting the frequency of people’s work is an effective way to do that. Thoughts, writers? -Ed.

A quick question that I hope you can offer guidance on: When do you ask for payment? In a query or during the submission, or not until they have indicated they want your work?
For cold pitches, I usually ask about rates after an editor indicates they want a piece - but before officially accepting the assignment, so there’s still room for negotiation. But I’m guessing different writers have different approaches. It also depends on the nature of your relationship with the editor. Anyone else want to weigh in on this issue? -Ed.

Weekend Reading: The Best Work in Literature

The Best Work in Literature
by Manjula Martin
The Virginia Quarterly Review online
May 30, 2013

This week in the dep’t of self-promotion: I wrote an essay about work and writing for the Virginia Quarterly Review’s blog.

My family’s store was housed in a grand 1910 sandstone building, formerly a bank. The basement was cool and dark. It smelled like damp cement and Styrofoam, but to me it was the shadowy secret headquarters of capital. My grandparents had re-purposed the old bank vault as their office, its original meter-thick door permanently propped open like a steel monument to the place’s past as a retailer of money. When I delivered my packing slips to the manager’s filing cabinet, I could see an intricate interior system of old locks and gears in the door’s cross-section. Prior to working at the store, I had been enchanted by the mechanics of the cash register, by its percussive flashes of bells, sliding parts, and coins. But in the basement I realized the sales floor operations were a façade: the real work of business was happening downstairs. The basement was both the physical and fiscal seat of power in the store. This was where the money lived, in the heavy lifting that made those wine glasses shine for the yuppie newlyweds shopping upstairs, and even deeper, behind a steel door as thick as I was tall. I wondered then if everything I knew and experienced might have a similar duplicity—another thing, a working and sweating mechanism beneath the surface.

In the business of literature, the people who mind the store—from writers to editors to Tumblrs— often have other jobs, too. For writers and other creators of culture, the “day job”—a means of income for an artist that is not the production of her art (leaving the definition of art aside for the moment)—is viewed as a temporary step on the ladder to artistic success. Many young writers hold the conviction that a day will come when they don’t have to do anything but write. When we speak about our “Work,” we mean our writing. We treat this work with reverence and hold it up as the work that makes us who we are: Artists. But beneath the surface of our art is a life largely spent doing other work: basement shifts, rent gigs, and adjunct positions whose earnings shore up our literary work. Day jobs are a mechanism beneath the business of literature. As such, they don’t just pay our bills; they’re what we do with most of our lives. Is there value to be found in a day job beyond its paycheck? Why are writers so eager to leave work behind?…

Stick around for the surprise ending: http://www.vqronline.org/blog/2013/05/30/the-best-work-in-literature/