Saturday, 29 May 2010

Charging For Your Writing & Editing

By Sandra Sealy

So you wrote a pretty good article. You’ve done the format check; the spell check; the someone-else-outside-of-your-writing-circle-read-it-and-liked-it check. You think somebody would be interested in reading it. Or you’re really good with editing or proof reading. You may have even have a few credits already under your belt. Great! Time to make some $$!

But what if the organization/publication doesn’t have a rate scale? Or maybe they do, but you’re not sure if your efforts = what they’re willing to pay. What if it’s a project for a whole publication and YOU need to send them what your rates are?

This is NOT an exact science but beyond research, I highly recommend touching base with other writers from your community first. Think about your expenses, your time, rights you will be selling and, what you bring to the table as far as experience and the amount of research you will be doing. Give some thought too as to what the particular market will bear.

You don’t want to undersell yourself just to get the business-especially if you have experience. You want to walk away satisfied for what you’ve offered. However, if the client is reliable and respects your worth, compromise may be necessary. After all, you want them to come back; good clients are hard to find!

These resources will prove to be useful for those travelling along their freelance writing journey:

Lynn Wasnak also provided her excellent "How Much Should I Charge?“ originally in a grid format.

Debra Jason gives great cost factors you need to consider in "Putting A Price On Your Capabilities: How To Set Your Fees As A Freelance Writer".
. (Seems we are on the same page!)

Sharon Hurley Hall has a great blog called Get Paid To Write.

Angela Hoy’s "Writing For Others – What to Charge?“ is a good read too.

And of course the Holy Grail for Writers - the $1.00 per word markets.

Get busy!

Copyright © Sandra Sealy 2010


Sandra Sealy is an award-winning writer of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction (articles) and drama as well as a performance poet, based in Barbados. She is also Poetry Editor with Anansesem: The Online Caribbean Children's Literature Magazine. Among her several writing credits are: Arts Etc; Island WHERE Magazine;; Calabash: A Caribbean Journal of Arts and Letters; the Nation Newspaper and SHE Caribbean. Sandra maintains Seawoman’s Caribbean Writing Opps. and Seawoman’s Caribbean Blogspot

Breach of Trust


Anouska Kock said...

Excellent timing, this post!
I just bartered fulltime freelancing for a steady paycheck back at the newspaper, but really miss the freedom of deciding my own words & schedule.
Freelancing is not easy, though, especially when you're on a small island. I know I should 'simply' branch out to international markets, but have been withheld by feelings of insecurity
Thanks for your insight and the links.
I need to do some strategizing..

Sandra Sealy said...

Dear Anouska,

Thanks for being so open.

The freelance writing world (especially from this part of the world) calls for serious discipline (I really, really need to top up in this area), time, doggedness, a bit of luck and yes, some bravado!

For anyone PURELY making a living by freelance writing/editing, please let me know and I'll throw a party for you! (You'll have to come to Barbados for it, though)

I've found that because of knowing my limitations (including a short attention span) that combining it with other activities usually related to writing seemed a better and more realistic fit.

The other thing is PLEASE don't feel at all guilty about giving it up full time, when you need to. I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. Priorities in other areas of our life shift and being paid by project is NOT always ideal.

I've had to believe and accept for myself, that it doesn't make you any less a writer because you devote less time to it.

But stay involved-even if you can only commit to a couple articles/projects over the year.

Power from the pen!

Joanne said...

Thanks for this. These tips on writing and (very important) getting paid are must-read for every freelancer. We, freelancers, have got to hang together as we try to hang in there. And Lord knows it's not easy. I've been doing this full time since firing the full time 9 to 5 in 2002 and I never worked so hard for so few returns as I have since (and I hate the querying, and fee and terms of use negotiation process). But every time I think about packing it in for the security of a living wage something holds me back (the freedom, the variety of projects, the thrill of discovering new ways of stretching myself, the flexibility, the resistance to being a cog in the machine) and I hope it keeps pulling at me. I wasn't meant to clock in. But yes I do agree that combining it with other writing related but more stable pursuits can be a good compromise. By the way, I've just posted over at CLS about my experiences with staying the course both as a writer and freelancer; hope you'll check it out. I've also had to do a lot of research over the years on contracts and negotiations and querying that sort of thing...time allowing maybe I'll post down the road.

Sandra Sealy said...

Dear Joanne:

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and more importantly, your candor.

I think one of the things we Caribbean people often shy away from is being open about our struggles, even if it is about something/someone we love.

Like you, I "fired de wuk" for writing in '99(I LOVE that expression!) some years ago. It's been one of the craziest/greatest rides of my life and the ONE thing I've never given up on. (You should see my resume - all OVER the place! But that's another blog post altogether.)

While I derive great satisfaction out of being a freelancing writer/editor, I see myself as an artist. I also don't see doing other things - the odd voice over or theatre or mentoring young writers or storytelling or teaching creative writing or producing a spoken-word CD or co-ordinating/facilitating a poetry reading/writing workshop - as conflicts. I see them as enriching my growth. I hate being put in a box!

The conflict FOR ME would be making the choice to spend A LOT of time doing something else outside of not just writing, but the Arts.

But you know what? SOMETIMES it's (painful yes but) necessary. I want to reassure anyone else going through this that it's okay. There are different seasons in our lives. You're not selling out (even though you feel guilty). Just don't give up your dream altogether. STILL WRITE!

I actually have a piece on this "love affair" with writing, I think I'll submit to CLS. I submitted it somewhere else and they "promised" to publish it (even for $$) but you know what? They don't deserve it anymore and I will withdraw it!

BTW When are you coming to Barbados for your party I need to throw you?!!!

Power from the pen and much love,