Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Game


They have the damndest cloud formations in Melbourne. And this one perfectly describes the way I'm not feeling right now after my most recent game of Make The Writer Write For Free. (Ironically, if the cloud formation had been Grumpy it would have made me very happy. Alas...)

I got the opportunity of interviewing the guy in the previous post. Why wouldn't you want to interview him? He looks like a cack. I think he'd be a lot of fun. And yeah, high profile interviews like this look good on your resume. And they're usually a crapload of fun to write.

So I approached a glossy I've written for before and they expressed interest but said they'd have to get back to me because they might be able to use an existing story from a sister mag overseas which they'd get for free.

I can understand it from their point of view but I just think it sucks that a local version won't be written - at least not for that mag by me.

Way the game works though, I bet if I said , "Look. I really want to do this story and I think it would be really good. In fact you know what? If you're getting it for free anyway and I want to do a local version so badly, why don't I waive any fee and do it for free?"

I'll bet they'd say, "Ooh. Hadn't thought about that. Hmm. It would be better to have a local one. And it would be good for you having someone like him added to your credits. Okay. All right then. Go for it."

Thing is, I can't do that. I can't write for free anymore and I still don't get why writers should be expected to write for free. If I was loaded I'd probably do it because when you're rich I imagine experience means more than making more dollars. But I'm not loaded. I'm still a struggling freelance writer who has to pay other humans to do stuff I need or want them to do for me... why is there this expectation of writers to write for the love alone? You do it in the beginning to get the runs on the board, but there comes a point when you have to stop doing it for free.

Magazine I was talking to last year, they looked through my book of features and said, "Well clearly you're above writing for a byline."

And I appreciated that. It was a bit of respect being shown. Downside is that like so many mags, they're cash strapped so no matter how much they liked my work, they haven't the budget to pay for it. The next person to see them was probably dead keen to write for the byline.

But to put 'cash strapped' into perspective... were not exactly talking about big bickies. Generally we're talking about a few cents a word. Less than a dollar a word to phone (often overseas), record, transcribe, shape a story and hopefully make it something the reader is going to get a kick out of. It's quite a bit of work with maybe a little bit of talent involved all for less than the monthly budget of office Tim Tams and teabags... if it's a biggish office with people who eat lots of Tim Tams and drinks lots of tea.

And we'd be grateful for that and have a bit of dignity about it all and maybe be able to continue doing it instead of, I dunno, faux chefing to pay for all the services we use.

And yeah I know, from a mag's point of view add up all the stories and if you can get them for nothing why not and it all adds up and cutting costs etc etc.

But from my point of view, it sucks and doesn't exactly make me feel like that really quite astonishing cloud formation in the picture.

More of The Game tomorrow as I hit up other magazines and maybe even try to convince the one I spoke to today to pay for a local story.

And maybe even go oh fuck it - I'll do it for nothing more than the experience and the byline.

5 comments:

Kathryn said...

That's gotta be frustrating. Good luck! :)

Lee said...

Frustrating, yes, but the game goes on. Stay tuned.

Y said...

I feel less than cloud formationed for you, Lee!

Lee said...

Don't feel too uncloudformationed, Y, fun things afoot.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Do they give away their magazine for free?