Walk into a room and mention that you’re a writer and everyone thinks your rich, spend your time in cafes during the day and at parties at night while the cat sits at home belting out chapter after chapter.
I don’t have a cat. I do have a possum that lives in the wall and five goannas that wander by now and again, would you believe it, none of the little buggers help with the writing at all.
Everyday thousands of people decide that they are going to be writers. Half of them quit after the first half dozen rejection letters. A third of those that are left are slowly starved into anonymity or oblivion, not necessarily in that order.
So, you’re looking for work as a freelance writer on the net and you come across an ad that offers three cents a word for a couple thousand words. The important question is: Is it worth it to you? I mean, if you’re in business, will that $60 cover your costs and time or would you be better off with a job at the local hardware shop?
Let’s say you are looking at a job offer to ghost write a children’s book. The employer has an idea and some disjointed notes and you are expected to produce a work of art from this idea for $200. Would you be surprised to know that the going rate for such a job would be between $50 and $100 an hour? Can you write a quality children’s book in four hours? Let’s be perfectly honest. The person who wants this job done is expecting to make money from your writing. Usually they expect to make a lot of money.
What about a manuscript evaluation for a theses or dissertation? In this case the employer is expecting you to insure that he/she gets a good reputation that will lead to future financial rewards. All for the princely sum of a hundred dollars. Now, depending on the subject and word count you may spend a couple of days or a week or more on the job. That hundred dollars is looking pretty insipid. Oh yeah, the going rate would be $15 – $100 an hour.
From a more personal point of view; I write occasionally (on spec) for a sporting magazine. They pay twenty cents a word (articles of 2000 – 2500 words), this is closer to the low end for a magazine feature article ($.14 -$3.00/word) but then they also pay $20 per picture and $200 if they use one of my pictures on the cover. My last submission made me around $650.00 for four days work (roughly $165/day).
I have worked for low end amounts, fun or interesting jobs or jobs that can lead to better paying work, but $.03 a word is insulting. I won’t even answer such an ad.
In the end, you have to decide for yourself whether or not a job is worth the effort. But don’t cheat yourself. You can download a fairly complete list of writing fees at: http://freelanceright.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/freelance-writing-wont-come-for-free/ in the .pdfs on the right side menu. The prices in this download aren’t set in stone but they sure help when faced with a job offer. I keep this list on my computer for reference.
Sometimes when I’ve had a bad day and want to take a bit of agro out on someone, I send the list to the snollygosters who make such thrimmelling offers.
George L Ghio is a freelance writer from Australia. His website states “I am a writer, a structural editor and professional reader.” That was a new term to me too, so go look his site. It’s worth knowing and contemplating.