ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Writers Shouldn't Write For Free

Updated on October 29, 2015

A debate is raging right now. No, it's not about the upcoming Election. Instead the controversy is about whether or not creative people should do work for free or for exposure, as a lot of clients like to tell us. Every creative has to make the choice for themselves but I stand with Wil Wheaton and do not believe that exposure is enough compensation from these companies.

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift took a stand against Apple. Apple was launching a new music streaming service and they were going to give everyone 90 free days! Great for the consumer but not so great for the indie artists that depend on the royalties that they get from the streaming companies to eat and pay their rent. In an open letter Taylor wrote:

"I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company."

Apple immediately changed their tune and agreed to pay the artists after all. Everyone decried it was the power of Taylor Swift, and many of us secretly wished that she would stand up for the rest of us in the same way, Or at least that some of these people who are so anxious to lure us to work for them for free. They tell us that doing their project will help us get noticed, and that will lead to "REAL" work.

Recently Wil Wheaton experienced the same thing that many of us have had to endure over the years. He wrote a piece for his website, and then The Huffington Post came along and asked to republish it on theirs. He considered for a moment, and then asked about how much he would be paid. The editor informed him that they are "unable" to compensate him. He politely turned them down and tweeted out this advice to writers, “Writers and bloggers: if you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period." In 140 characters or less Wil has handed over the best advice to creatives and hopefully more of them heed it.

Last Sunday, instead of writing, I was playing on Facebook. There was a post on one of the writing groups I'm a part of that intrigued me. "Urgent: Writers Needed Immediately". So I commented that I was interested in learning more about it. The gentleman asked me to message him privately, so I did. We talked for a couple of minutes about the project, writing long horror scripts for him. The conversation suddenly stopped when he asked how fast I could get it done and I said that it depended on compensation. After a few minutes he wrote back and (in my head) incredulously said that there was no pay, and again this is my opinion as I have no proof, but he seemed irritated when I told him that I wouldn't work without being paid. He ended the conversation abruptly with "OK bye". This guy wanted me to spend hours upon hours writing a script that would be something like a hundred or so pages, and not get paid for it. Sorry I don't think so. And I hope that many other writers and creative people start doing the same thing.

The argument that everyone needs exposure and to get their name out there before they start charging is held in high esteem by some. It's hogwash though. We don't tell high school kids that they should go work at McDonald's for free, just to get their name out there, why should writing or any kind of art be any different? People in Congress make over $100,000 a year and get more vacation time than all of the people I know combined, Yet people who work hard, and rarely take time off are expected to suck it up. I don't think so.

© 2015 EdAnderson

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • EdAnderson profile imageAUTHOR

      EdAnderson 

      3 years ago

      Oh ok, I misunderstood what you meant. Please forgive me, Jodah. I don't think I would ever put my books up for free, there doesn't seem to be any upside to it. Though I might write a Wattpad novel, but that would be just for fun.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I never listed any books for free Ed. I read recently that research shows listing them for free makes no difference to getting them seen. I have one for $8.50 and another $6.50 at present.

    • EdAnderson profile imageAUTHOR

      EdAnderson 

      3 years ago

      Ron, I understand where you're coming from but I think there's a major difference between a writer volunteering their work and a company asking the for it. I have less than 0 in my bank account, if HuffPo wants to use something I wrote then I believe that they should pay for it.

      Jodah, how long did you have your books for free?

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I agree with you to a point also Ron, after all I write for HubPages for virtually nothing, and have done guest blogger posts which I don't charge for. But if I publish an eBook for example I won't make it available for free like many do.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I understand the point you are making, but I wonder if a hard line on this is always appropriate. For example, a number of people have gotten started in the coaching profession by working for a time as unpaid interns in a college athletic department in order to get their feet in the door. In the writing realm, a piece of advice you see frequently is about guest-blogging: you offer your content to a blogger who is more widely read than you are, not expecting to be paid, but seeing it as an opportunity to gain greater exposure for your "brand."

      Couldn't insisting on always being paid in money for any and all work you do sometimes be short-sighted and counter-productive for an unknown trying to become known? Couldn't providing free content on occasion be part of a well thought-out strategy?

    • EdAnderson profile imageAUTHOR

      EdAnderson 

      3 years ago

      Jodah, I have a minimum that I will accept as well. I don't ask for a lot but a little something to help pay my rent and what not. With the movie script I looked up what the average screenwriter makes and was appalled that this man probably was going to take what is written for him and make 10's of thousands of dollars from it.

      Kathleen, I haven't self published as of yet. But I was thinking about it in the future, would you offer any advice for someone new to that world?

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I learned years ago that, once people find out you are a writer they have all kinds of projects you can do - to get your name out there. I adopted this policy: You must pay me something for my work, even if it is a plate of brownies. Even on Kindle I tried letting my work go for free and guess what? It made no difference. If folks do manage to find my needle in the publishing haystack, if they are at all interested they will pay a fair price. On average it takes me two and a half years to write a book. That is worth what the market will bear.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub and good advice Ed. I was approached recently through Twitter and also Google+ by a site that said they wanted me to write online content for them and to contact them by email. They would only accept new material that had never been published elsewhere, you had to agree to write a minimum number of articles/stories/poems per month etc. When I asked about remuneration I was told "Oh we can't pay you, but your name gets exposure on our site.

      I have a minimum amount that I will charge people per page of writing. It isn't an unreasonable amount and most that have hired me have actually tipped me more than I asked. However if they won't accept my asking price I turn them down.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)