Thursday, July 18, 2013

Schmucks with Underwoods

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” 
Robert Benchley

Robert Benchley was wrong, or course. Because a freelance writer is a man or woman who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. But you get the gist...

It would be fair to say that, in 2013, it is easier than ever to get the fruits of your creative endeavours out into the world. (And I won’t complicate things too much by pointing out that the corollary to this is that it is now easier than ever to be plagiarised. J'accuse, Leanne Spiderbaby! But I digress...)

The flipside to this is that it is harder than ever to get paid for it.

Anyone who ever does anything in a creative capacity can cite examples of this. Here’s a particularly thorough article on this topic by Andrew Collins that’s worth a read, especially for the comments at the bottom which proves that this problem stretches to pretty much any field that involves specialist knowledge or ability.
One of the rotting carrots that often gets dangled in front of the face of the humble freelancer is the familiar refrain that “We can’t pay you, but you’ll get exposure”. Let me shovel that silver-lining-horseshit out of the way for you, then. You want to see some reasonably scary stats about how long it takes the average reader to abandon the article you spent ages slaving over? Then read this piece at Slate called You Won’t Finish This Article by Farhad Manjoo. Sobering stuff.

This is a problem that hits even respected, award-winning veterans. Listen to this righteous rant from the great Harlan Ellison, if only to hear him shout "I don't take a piss without getting paid for it!". Preach on, Harlan!

If you got this far, then you probably did better than most people who landed on this blog post. The reward for your attentiveness is a picture of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Enjoy - you've earned it.

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