To Pay or Not to Pay? That is the Question.

On Facebook, I commented about ‘for the love of’ markets.  I simply stated that if one works, then one should be paid.  The discussion over there has been very interesting.  You can check it out here if you wish to join the fray.

I stand before you now to clarify and explain myself instead of taking up space on FB.  It is an interesting topic and I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and feelings on this.

I have ‘given’ a few stories away for copy discounts.  Most of them were in the flash word range, so I didn’t think too much about it.  Some places will either (or in some combination) compensate an author to an anthology with cash, copies, or discounts.  Some give one, some two, some will give you all three.  Others give nothing.  Not even a discount on copies.  Is it worth the author’s time and effort to plot, write, edit, and submit a story they will never receive anything for?  That is up to the author to decide.  If you just want the exposure, great.  If you want to get your name out, great.  But giving things away has to end sometime and it’s trap of gratification that is too easy to fall in.  I had to make the choice to push myself harder and submit to higher paying markets.  I might get rejected more, but I will take it because while I failed I became better at my craft.

Each of us takes a different path in the literary world.  Some just want our names out there, some want to make something of a living, and some want to rule the world with their laptop or pen.  There is no right answer.  The paths each author takes might not be the right path for someone else.  A few of us have had it drilled into our heads to, “get paid” for our work by other authors who are successful in the field.  If that is the path I choose, then that is my choice and we should all respect the choices others have made. 

In closing, do what feels right.  Go out there, swing your pen around like a sword, and find your way.  I might make some bad choices, but I will learn from them and take away some knowledge from my mistakes.  Will I pass my experiences on to the next group trying to make it behind me?  Yes, I will.  Will they all follow it?  No, I only want them to follow it if they feel it is their path. 

Go with the flow and love your work, but get what you want out of it.  If it feels good and aligns with your writing goals, do it and don’t look back.


4 thoughts on “To Pay or Not to Pay? That is the Question.

  1. I’m right there with you. After a dozen or so “for the love” publications, and a few for charity, I am at the point now where I am choosing to challenge myself by only submitting to professional paying markets.
    My mid range goal is to accumulate enough pro credits to join the Horror Writers’ Association. I feel like that is a good step in the journey from writer to author.
    The free publications can only give you so much juice before its time to step up to the big leagues.

    1. I felt the same way. At some point the anthologies run their course and people are looking at you saying, “Is that it?”. This is the lesson I learned from Armand Rosamilia as we prepare my debut novella. He told me that the short stuff is best used as a marketing tool for the bigger stuff. Since then, I’ve focused largely on a few novellas and a novel. I’ll still write short works, but they aren’t my primary focus any more.

  2. For me it’s always been dependent on the project. From the start, I knew certain projects (eg Above Ground) were meant to be serialised online, for free. Other projects (eg Hungry For You), I knew I would sell from the start.

    I certainly believe I’ve benefitted greatly from giving away stories for free — it’s the readers of my free work who have been the loudest promoters of my paid-for work.

    But each to his own, as you say!

    1. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what works for one author doesn’t guarantee success for another author. I’ve been writing seriously for two years and I’ve gotten tons of advise from all the other authors I’ve met. Until I know what will and won’t work, trial and error it is! Once I have some more things out, I’m sure I’ll experiment with free promotions. I’ll have to see how it goes.

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