Friday, 20 August 2010

So what are words worth?

I'd never really given much thought to this until I tried earning a living as a writer, and the answer has to be - it depends. On the surface of it, freelance writers should be awash with work - never before has so much been required to be written, what with the Internet, information for companies, books, magazines and newspapers... the list goes on. And whilst most people can write, fewer can write well enough for publication. (Not that that necessarily stops them!)

However, there seems to be a lot of people out there who want words for next to nothing. Just this week, I have seen the following freelance jobs advertised:

  • A number of 500-600 word articles for the Internet, at £2 each
  • A short e-book for £50-£150
  • A novel to be ghostwritten for £1,000-£5,000
 And although, as a fellow freelancer commented: 'We do this for a living, not for petrol money', each of those jobs attracted a number of bids from freelancers who were prepared to work for a great deal less than minimum wage. Words, it seems are not valued very highly at all!

And yet there are good jobs out there, reasonable employers who know that you get what you pay for and that for someone to be motivated, they need to be paid a living wage. They seem sometimes to be very much in the minority, but they do exist. It's just very, very disheartening when people devalue writers and writing by either offering or accepting such pitifully poor rates of pay for what is - in the right hands - a highly skilled job.

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