Letters To The Editor For September 29th

~I Don’t Write For Less Than…~

I contacted you a couple of years ago when I registered a complaint against Jack Benzacar and Vain Magazine Inc. in Toronto, Canada. I won the small claims case, but, true to his nature, he didn’t pay up. I am not giving up, though. I am just writing because upon perusing the pay scale for many of these writing gigs, I am shocked anyone would write for 10-cents or less. Myself, I will not write for less than 30-cents to $1 word. It is my time, my research and my skills. I place a value on what I do for a living. I have been told by editors that they do not pay but I will get my name in a national glossy. Is this for real?! Who cares? I have to make a living. Those willing to work for free or for a nominal amount make it hard for professional writers. I’m not sure what the solution is, but, as someone who also edits a national magazine, I have discovered you get what you pay for. I have to do so much work when I assign a new, enthusiastic writer a story. Often they have a full-time job so they are not as committed. The pieces are usually a mess and littered with factual errors. Anyway, I just wanted to sound off that, while I appreciate you only list paying gigs, it should really be paying gigs of at least $20-cents/word. $50 for 500 to 1500 words is insulting.

Thanks again for your informative newsletter and forum. Karen Bliss Toronto

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, if we only listed gigs that paid $0.20/word and up, we’d probably go out of business. There simply aren’t enough high-paying gigs to go around and we must list the low-paying ones as well. We never, however, list non-paying gigs.

~Kudos to Beth Hering!~

Didn’t see an email address for Beth Hering who wrote this week’s Success Story about how breaks can help revitalize our writing efforts. Just wanted to tell her what a very nice job she did. Her piece was a thoughtful take on a reality that every freelancer’s going to encounter sooner or later. Love reading the rest of the newsletter every week, too, no matter how little time I have for anything else.

With thanks,
Phyllis Edgerly Ring

~A Different Opinion About Non-Paying Literary Markets~

Hi Angela,

I just read your response to the question Erica had about non-paying literary journals. I suppose some out there are not really legitimate, but there are some at the universities and community colleges that are.

I worked on the American River Review at American River College in Sacramento. I can tell you a lot of hard work and many long hours went into making the book, without pay. Yeah, the staff got 3 lousy college credits for taking the class, but I personally (and another art major as well) sacrificed over 200+ hours above what was required for our grade. Our faculty advisor sacrificed so very much without any extra pay to make this literary journal a reality and a teaching tool for the writing classes on campus. This staff had very limited resources to work with and any money we made from the book sales after we recouped our loss went back into an account for the next year’s staff to make another edition. Nobody, I mean nobody made money from this.

What did happen though is many writers saw their creations in print. Along the journey these writers grew through the rigorous editing process. This ignited the flame for writing for these authors to learn to hone their skills as well as express themselves through their writing. It also gave them a start for their resume. Angela, I know that you are aware how hard it is for someone with no clips to get a paying writing job.

I personally have been published this way and it has given much more than a measly $50 would have. I gained passion, education, and dedication to my craft. I am sorry that you are discouraging new writers from experiencing this growth and instead are setting them up to fail by aiming just at the paying markets.


Editor’s Response: This letter was about an educational publishing endeavor, not about the commercial literary magazines on the market (which is what the Q&A from last week covered). I do encourage new writers to NOT write for free. There are plenty of paying publications that warmly welcome new writers. To find several, click here.

The number of paying markets in our database that welcome new writers is huge! It’ll take you hours to study them all.