On asking me to write for you

[posted for later reference]

In the first eleven days of December 2013, I have received eight requests for me to write for a periodical such as a web site or a magazine. This is nice. I struggled for many years to get published. To have publishers knock on my door and ask for my work gives me a certain warm fuzzy feeling. They’re trying to fill in their 2014 editorial calendars, and want me to be part of it? That’s kind of cool.

There’s only one problem: they want to pay me with a subscription. The more generous ones offer advertising space. I address this in my FAQ, but it seems these people either don’t read the answer, don’t comprehend the answer, or think the answer doesn’t apply to them.

Here’s an explanation with more detail.

My writing time is completely occupied, either with work that I expect will return financial rewards or “writing of the heart” — projects that I really want to do, but that I accept will not pay.

Generally speaking, if you’re contacting me with a request to write for you, you expect to make money off of my writing. That makes this a business transaction. This means I expect to get paid an amount that is roughly equivalent to the amount I would make if I expend that amount of effort on other paying channels. A thousand-word article is almost certainly more than $50 of my time.

But it’s also important to not be a jerk. The world is a small place.

From now on, I’ll answer these requests with a form letter.

Hi,

Thanks for your interest.

At this time, I am completely occupied with paying writing work, so I cannot take your offer. But thanks for thinking of me.

Regards,
==ml

I’m not a total mercenary. I put a fair amount of technology content up in this blog, free for anyone who can use a search engine. But: I have a day job. My writing time is taken away from family and friends. I might choose to give up some of that time for someone. But that “someone” will be a person, not a business.

I know other people will write for these periodicals. Someone always will. But that’s their choice. I choose otherwise.

3 comments to On asking me to write for you

  • Eddie

    Michael,

    It’s only fair to be compensated for your services. I totally agree.

  • Alexander Hall

    A subscription? Seriously? I’d say that’s an insult, at best.
    I envy your patience with rude and stupid people.

  • Yes, a subscription. Usually a PDF subscription, so there’s no actual expense to the publisher.

    You don’t become an author without patience. Buried frustration and rage probably explains some of the footnotes in my tech books, mind you…

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