How can we fix the glaring inconsistency of expecting writers to work for free while everybody else receives payment? Well, editors can either pay the writers or writers can move on to publications that do pay. Sometimes, editors do not seem to understand the unfairness of this policy or, at other times, writers sell themselves short. I wrote the following allegory to expose the issue, and to encourage fairness for the work that writers do.
In the tiny town of Unfairfield, a group of concerned citizens got together. They had decided their town needed a furniture store, and they were determined to have one. First, they needed woodworkers to make the furniture. That was the most important part.
“I will help,” said a zealous woodworker to the would-be storekeeper. “I know others who will help, too. We will make tables and chairs, beds and bureaus-everything you need to fill your furniture store.”
“Wonderful!” exclaimed the storekeeper. “I will hire the workers to inspect the furniture, to answer the phones, and to take pictures to advertise the furniture.”
After many weeks of thinking, designing, and crafting, the woodworkers delivered a truckload of furniture to the store. “Here you are,” the head woodworker announced. “We have done our best; we believe this furniture will sell very well.”
With gusto, the storekeeper and his cohorts unloaded the truck. Next, the furniture inspectors sanded a few spots, and tightened some screws. The storekeeper himself polished the furniture and then sat upon the nicest chair. “Now,” he said with glee. “We deserve to be paid. I will take my share first because I have polished the furniture.” He grabbed a sack of money and stuffed his pockets full. Then he handed the sack to the head furniture sander.
“Our share is ample because we have sanded the furniture, and we even tightened a screw or two.” Another pile of money disappeared from the sack. After the office workers, photographers, and a few passersby took their share, the sack flopped to the floor, empty.
The head woodworker picked up the sack, and peered inside. “Is there nothing left for us?” He asked, dejected.
“For you?” questioned the storekeeper. “Why should you receive anything? After all, making furniture is more than a craft; it is an art. Even though the rest of us received compensation for our work, and even though we intend to charge a tidy sum for the furniture, I see no reason to pay for the actual building of the furniture. Why, you should be grateful that I accepted your work in the first place; what a privilege to see your products in such a prestigious store! Besides, woodworkers receive other rewards worth much more than money.”
“That is true.” The woodworker brushed a tear from his eye. “We work hard. We enjoy the satisfaction of using the gifts we have been given. That is worth much. But, I guess we woodworkers supposed that if everybody else was paid, and customers spent money for the furniture, we, too, would receive a little something for our work. But, we can see that you value your own work much more than ours. So, we have decided to flee the town of Unfairfield, and move to a place where the workers are worthy of their reward.” And with that, the woodworkers piled into the furniture truck, and sped off to the thriving metropolis of Fairfield.
An editor once said to me, “If the editor gets paid, why shouldn’t you?” I couldn’t agree with him more.
“For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”
(1 Timothy 5:18).
KJV – Authorized Version
Christine Laws is a freelance writer and editor living in Amity, Maine. Read a free sample of her new book for Christian writers here.