Friday, October 29, 2010

When $1000 isn't $1000

You're freelancing, fighting to leave the 5 cents/word markets in hopes of climbing to the $1/word venues. Reaching that summit is good. It builds a name. But at the same time, be aware of the costs. Sometimes $1000 isn't worth the gold standard it's tauted to be.

Freelancers should have some sense of their hourly worth to determine which markets best suit their purpose.

Smaller or less known publications pay 10 to 50 cents. They are usually less competitive, require fewer rewrites, and the assignment often requires less of an investment - financial and personal. A $1000 article may take a week's fulltime attention, say 40-50 hours. A $300 article may take five hours. That's $25/hour for the $1000 piece and $60/hour for the $300 piece.

Frankly, I prefer the mid-range markets. Not only do I net a higher hourly wage, but I find the multitude of smaller, shorter articles more fun. I spend less being rejected. I'd much prefer five smaller pieces to one huge assignment anyway for personal interest's sake. But that's me. Some writers prefer short stories to novels, or vice versa. Some prefer nonfiction to fiction. After years of FundsforWriters editorials, short nonfiction suits my fancy.

That's not to say only stick to the one type of market that feeds your preference. Diversity is key to earning a living on a freelance basis. Accept some 10 cent/word assignments, some 80 cent/word assignments, and everything in between. Just make sure that at the end of the week, you've earned the wages you feel you deserve, whatever they are.


Ellie Garratt said...

A lot to think about in this post! So far my stories have earnt me from 0.5 to 13.5 cent a word. Quite a difference!

Norma said...

I've never done short pieces, but at a writers conference, I and some other writers figured it all out and determined that most novelists aren't even making minimum wage, given what they're paid and how much time goes into each manuscript.