Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Paid

That's the goal, right? All the hours we writers spend honing our craft - hours we can't possibly be compensated for (unless, of course, you happen to be in that hallowed 1% of writers who make a living from fiction) - are spent in hope of someday being paid to do it. Yes, there's passion behind it. Yes, when the writing is pure it doesn't feel like work.

I know all that. I feel all that.
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I also know this isn't the business to get into if your goal is to make a lot of money (see 1% comment above). But I'll be honest - it'd be nice to earn a paycheck from my fiction writing someday. I didn't start thinking down those lines until I'd finished the first draft of my first manuscript, but now, during revisions, there's no way to escape those thoughts. After all, what am I doing if not polishing the book to the point that I might one day be able to sell it? And if not this book, hopefully the next. Or the next.
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Or better yet, all of the above.

In the meantime, though, I've been dealing with another issue: getting paid for my non-fiction writing. I've had several instances lately of having to quote my rates to prospective freelance writing clients, and that's a tough thing to do, at least for a novice freelancer. I've been lucky so far to have built a strong roster of writing clients in a relatively short amount of time. Well, it's not actually luck - I've been working as a journalist in my market for more than a decade, so I had a firm foundation to build on. Good contacts. Years of inadvertent networking.

But I digress.... again. I had to quote my rates to a prospective client recently, and for the first time, I managed to spit out a number fairly easily that I felt comfortable with. I'm finally (blessedly, thankfully) in the position of being busy enough that I don't have to take every job that comes my way, so I've figured out a solid theory about how to charge: Charge a rate that, if I get the job, will pay me as much or more as other jobs I could be spending that time on.

So that's what I offered. And I got the job! I meet with the new client Wednesday. Meanwhile, my existing clients are keeping my working hours (and off hours when I'm not careful) full. So full that I haven't had time to spend on fiction in more than a week - but that's OK. The fiction work is a marathon. The non-fiction work is a series of sprints. It's nice to be so busy with paid work right now that I have less time to spend on the unpaid stuff. I know that won't always be the case (it's a feast-or-famine business), so I'll take it while I can.
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Hopefully one day, someone will pay me for my fiction work too. But as it is, I'm happy to be able to say I'm making a living as a writer.

2 comments:

  1. Making a living writing is huge :D. Good luck finding time for your fiction, too!

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  2. Thanks Cheryl. I'm trying to make time. I'm trying to make time to do it all lately - that's the problem. Work, marriage, house, motherhood, social life, church, organizations ... and book. I put life on hold while writing the first draft, but with all the changes I've been going through work-wise, that hasn't been possible while revising. It's like a one-woman juggling act, all the time. I know you know what I'm talking about!

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