Ah the age-old conundrum, to write for free or not?



This is something that divides many writers. There are those that swear by the method of never publishing anything less you’re getting paid for it. You have to put a price on your work because it’s a product.


But then there are those that say getting published is reward enough in some circumstances. Typically, the publishers of the websites and webzines you submit to.


And there are those web-zines that don’t pay their writers but still charge a fee for submitting.


I know there is a lot to be said for never publishing unless you’re paid. And certainly, at this point in my life, after a few months of freelancing, there’s a lot of gigs that pay little to nothing that I’ve said no to. Those were the gigs that were paying me .01 cent for hours of work. I prefer to look at my work output on an hourly basis as opposed to a per word situation. The pay by word doesn’t factor in the research, time spent, people interviewed etc. But that is an article for another day.


When I first got serious about submitting my work. I just threw it out everywhere. I didn’t care if they paid, if I had to pay, or if they simply thought being published was reward enough. I guess I wanted to prove to myself more than anyone else that I had something worth writing about and reading about.



I got rejected….a lot. I didn’t have any clue about pitches, my edits were sloppy, and my intro emails were rigid.


But then someone said yes. A review I wrote for the TV show The Magicians was interesting enough to the editor of Strangerviews.com to put on their website.


I didn’t get paid, but it did lead the way to two more published clips on the website. And more than that, I got to write about something I loved and the end product represented my writing style and niche perfectly.


Which only helped me find paying gigs.


At the end of the day, the decision is really yours. Just beware of the websites and magazines that charge you for submissions. I found that these typically won’t get back to you for months and won’t offer any comments or criticism.  This is a little different for contest submissions. Sometimes an entrance fee is quid pro quo for short fiction contests.


Think about the long con. As beginners, we scramble. We scramble to get published, to get paid, to get into the big leagues. But we all have to start somewhere. And if you look at the end game, you’re looking to enhance your credibility as a writer and pad your portfolio so you can back up your prices and rates later in the game.

What are your thoughts? Do you only publish if you’re getting paid? Let me know in the comments.


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