The Trials and Tribulations of being a Writer
June 1, 2007
Writing for a living, especially as a freelancer, is not all fun, games, and daytime TV. There’s the lean times between assignments, insane editors who think you can deliver fully researched, detailed 1000 word pieces with multiple sources* overnight, and then there are the ultra-cheap or broke editors/publishers who basically want something for nothing.
I’m pretty sure that all my fellow freelance writers (and graphic designers, and photographers, etc.) have experienced this before. Either in the benign form of a job ad – a gig that sounds great until you get to the fine print at the bottom. “No pay – we’re broke”. Even if you can’t afford $1.00 a word, at least give them something. A byline on your start-up website isn’t exactly going to make their career, no matter how sure you are that you’re the next Gawker or Huffington Post. At least if the writer in question started their own blog they can run ads and make their pittance that way.
If you really can’t afford to pay writers anything, write the content yourself or get an intern and help them arrange to get course credits. Of course, I’m not nearly as entertaining as the Craigslist Curmudgeon – check out his creative skewering of idiot publishers, editors, and webmasters everywhere.
*All of my beloved editors are exempt from this rant, naturally, although I am capable of writing 1000 words overnight. They just won’t be my most brilliant words. And then there’s that whole matter of contacting and interviewing sources.