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.
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
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.
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?
“Literature that appeals to the mainstream isn’t just politically anodyne—it’s aesthetically predictable. We need a literary world, and a political order, in which writers, from a range of social positions, feel encouraged to surprise their readers. We need fiction and poetry that will confuse us and trouble us, challenge us and incite us. Perhaps this, too, is literature we can come to love.”
This article advocates for what I’d like to see more of and points out some of the serious problems our society has with the support of actual artists. We should be supporting people who take risks, not just people who make us comfortable. We need writing, even fan-fiction writing, that surprises readers rather than just delivers the prescribed goods.
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.
Everyday things can be of importance. Especially for writers who pay attention to detail. One of those occasions happened to me a few days ago as I walked home from the library. The rain had just stopped for a few minutes at that point. I saw a mail woman putting mail in the designated locations. Mail slots. Indeed. But that wasn’t so important. The important part started when…
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.
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?…