Writers Come Last In The Publishing Food Chain By E.D. Easley and Angela Hoy – Part 2 Of 2

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Part 2 of 2

Last week, we looked at the insulting rates writers are often paid by electronic writing publications.

Working for print magazines can thrust writers into a whole new economic landscape. Magazines have expenses – sometimes huge expenses – to buy paper and ink. They may have unions to deal with. Printers have them, staff writers and editors have them, and the guys who sweep the floors may belong to one. Add what they pay the advertising staff. Factor in what it costs to distribute their products. You have to pay those people in the pressroom and circulation.

And there’s postage.

There’s enough left for Written By, the Magazine of the Writers Guild of America, to pay a hefty $500-$3000 for 1200-3000 words, or $0.42-$1.00 per word.

Writers Digest pays writers $0.30-$0.50 per word.

Decent pay draws a crowd of talented writers.

Writers Digest claims a circulation of 140,000. It can cost up to $10,145 for a full-page, four-color ad in their magazine.

Ten thousand bucks for an ad? You’ll need deep pockets to be a big cat in the print publishing sandbox. By the end of each month some publications are raking in six or seven figures.

They have to.

Folks say that print and ezine publishing are entirely different creatures, and they’re right. Unfortunately, many writing-related print publications pay writers about the same as their ezine counterparts.

The Writer wants articles running between 600 and 3,500 words and pays $25-$500, or $0.04-$0.14 per word. They charge $0.40 per word to run a classified ad on their website only. Their print ad rates are not featured on their website.

ByLine pays up to $100 for 1500-1800, or $0.06-$0.07 per word. They charge $1 per word for their classified ads and up to $350 for a full-page ad.

Poets & Writers publishes articles of 500-3000 words, but does not publish their payment rates on their website. An email sent to them requesting their payment rates was not returned. UPDATE: A reader obtained this information for us. They pay $150-$500, or $0.16-$0.30 per word. They pay $50 for online-only pieces and
ask for first right and non-exclusive reprint rights (meaning they’re taking more than first rights).

Many glossy print magazines with large circulations have to command dizzying ad rates. It costs a fortune – literally – to keep their presses rolling, their newsrooms full, and their circulations up.

The Web is a crowded market filled with aspiring writers. Many will accept little – if anything – to be published.

Experienced writers say that waters down the market. They may be right, but they also don’t understand that writers are the last kids in the publishing lunch line.

Everyone else gets paid before they do. And it’s usually a lot more.

A good example is a sale to Writer’s Digest.

Writer’s Digest is one of the highest-paying publications in the writing trade. At $0.30 to $0.50 per word most writers jump for joy when they sell a piece to the magazine.

If it’s 2,000 words, they can walk away with rent and grocery money.

The publisher, however, buys a lot of caviar with the same article.

– The basic rate for a page of their print advertising is more than $1,000

– for part of the page – and an article can run a couple of pages.

– The publisher gets about 75 percent more if those advertisers opt to put it in the e-edition.

– And a couple of bucks for each newsstand sale. Then add the 80,000 or so print subscription sales.

– There’s a premium charge for the outside and inside covers of the magazine bringing in another four or five figures each.

So while $0.30 a word may seem to be a huge windfall to most writers, it’s not much to the publisher.

Print publishers have a manufacturing arm. Someone – usually union pressmen – works with room-sized presses to put out the magazine. They have a sales staff that burns up the phones, bangs on the doors and pounds the pavement.

They’re backed up by a distribution arm that gets the magazine out on the street by mail, by vendors, and every other way they can find.

And oh, there’s the writers.. they’re often the last guys in the lunch line of their own trade.

E.D. Easley writes, edits and publishes book-length projects. The New
England Press Association?s Best Editor and Pulitzer nominee settled in
Spokane, Wash. He can be reached at
creative-editing-solutions -at – comcast.net

Go Ahead and Burn My Books, But Buy Them First



Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com.