Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Money Matters

I recently wrote an article for Writer's Weekly on the challenges every writer faces in determining what to charge and how to estimate what a job will cost.

"For What It's Worth" is 500 words that I wish someone had told me when I started making words my business.

Too many writers I meet feel guilty or even ashamed to charge for their services.

Too many of them have given little thought to their long-term business plan.

Too many are happy to simply cash the occasional check from a publisher and dance with fervent frenzy until realize that it works out to roughly 14 cents an hour for all the time they invested in the piece.

I've been there. I used to live there, in fact. And, truth be told, some days it's a struggle not to go "back home."

Last week, I received an e-mail from a first-time published writer. The publisher wanted the writer's social security number in order to issue a check and the writer had security concerns.

My response was something along the lines of, "The publisher is a long-established one that printed your piece and wants to hire you for more. If you want to get paid and don't have an EIN, give them your SSN."

(Actually, I think my exact response was, "Give them the #. Laugh all the way to the bank. It'll be fine.")

I often find that writers get uncomfortable when talking about money. Evidently, others have noticed the tendency as well.

Last week, Freelance Writing Jobs compiled a list of 32 blog posts about writers' rates.

Some are more useful than others. "How Much Should I Charge?" by Allena Tapia is full of relevant, useful links. It also includes the caveat:

"Remember that your billable hours will generally make up only 20% to 60% of your total working hours."

Yet another thing I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out.

It's a good thing for writers to talk about money. (It's an even better thing for writers to make money, if you ask me.) The more we share ideas and strategies for making the most of our writing time, the more we'll be able to make a living doing what we love. And nothing matters more than that!

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