I was a pretty good actor, but I’ve never been good at anything besides writing. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t value writers in a financial sense.
We can pour our souls out on paper and not make a dime.
Writing is valuable. Your voice, your words and your truth are worth paying for. Yet, we are writers are consistently made to feel like we need to give our talent away for free.
Let’s apply this logic to another profession. Imagine you knew a skilled carpenter. Now, let’s say you approached this person and asked him to make you a coffee table for free. You did this knowing that he needs to pay for the materials to make the table and work for hours on this project. That seems inconsiderate, doesn’t it?
Well it is, and people do this sort of thing to writers all the time.
It can take years to come up with a concept for a book, write and and get it published. That process is labor intensive. The writer’s process is dismissed and disrespected by out society in a variety of ways.
One thing that consistently happens is that people expect you to write for free. I have experienced this so many times. My mind, my words, and my trade are valuable and I deserve to get paid for what I do well.
Another problem I encounter is that people want you to give away your book for free. Why? Would you ask that carpenter I mentioned before to make you a free table? No, you wouldn’t, because you value his skill set and his time.
It’s time that we began respecting the work that writers do. The first way to do this is to pay them for their work. The second thing that needs to change is this sense of entitlement we feel with regard to creative types. As a writer, I don’t owe you anything. Just because I can write, doesn’t mean I have to do it for you.
And here’s the final truth: not everyone can write. In the same way that not everyone can tap dance or fix a car engine. These things are skills, just like writing. So please, don’t expect a writer to do something for free just because she possesses that skill.