Monday, May 25, 2015

Should Work be Offered for Free for Others to Profit From?

Should we offer our work for free for others to profit from? When is it appropriate, when isn't it?

These questions came to the forefront recently when an editor asked me to contribute an article for a magazine. Initially she did not offer any kind of remuneration, even though she’d earn money through selling the magazine to the public. In the end she offered me a six month subscription, which I happily took, but the questions remained buzzing around in my head. So I asked other writers on different walks in their journey what they thought about the issue:

Carol Riggs, Debut, The Body Institute, releases in September 2015
When we are first building our writing careers, we are often willing to do certain things for free, like speaking at a school or making stories available online. It's a gray area sometimes, but it tends to devalue our work. Who else in the world works for free? Although we write because we enjoy it and we want to share our creativity, it shouldn't be viewed any differently than other skills or careers. (An exception involves the marketing strategy of offering free books as a sample of your writing so readers will want to buy more of your work.) Even libraries purchase books before they offer them free to the public. Paying for something gives it worth—our words have worth. You can certainly do an occasional free event, but value yourself and your writing enough to treat your talent professionally. Get paid for doing your job as a writer.

Theresa Milstein, writes for children, teaches, and is a poetry editor for Vine Leaves Literary Journal.
When it comes to novels, I’m still waiting for “the one” (agent) followed by “the one” (publisher), and all that fame and fortune that follows. But when it comes to smaller fiction and poetry pieces, I do it for the creative outlet, experience, and exposure. Not the $.

Two exceptions: One anthology made a profit, and I received enough money to download about 3 songs on iTunes. The website BlogHer has also paid me a flat fee to republish a few of my previous blog posts. That seems generous, especially since they were already available for free on my blog.

When I published a couple of vignettes in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, they didn’t pay me. Now they give a small amount to contributors. For the last year, I volunteer many hours as their poetry editor and understand what a labor of love it is to run the magazine.

L. Diane Wolfe a.k.a. Spunk On A Stick, Professional Speaker and Author
It depends on what is to be gained. Writers can give up rights when signing a contract to gain exposure and add to their resume. Giving away work for free online or for a publication walks the fine line of added exposure versus devaluing of one’s efforts. Is the exposure worth the lack of compensation? Again, it can look good on a writing resume.

Offering a book in a series for free works well for some authors. Without a back list though, that free book is less effective. It might generate some reviews, but without other titles available for sale, readership ends there.

Writers need to weigh their options carefully. Give away work for free when it will greatly further a writing career and/or spur future sales.

So what do you think? When do you think it’s appropriate to give away your work for free even though others will profit from it? What experiences have you had?

Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Reasons Why You can Cope with Rejection

No doubt about it, rejections suck the wind out of your sails. The space around you becomes void of sound, pressure builds in your ears, your head pounds. If you're a writer, (I'm guessing you wouldn't be here if you weren't) it's almost impossible not to receive a literary rejection at one point in your career. You change publishers only to reel from the sting of rejection. Or you write something outside your norm and are instantly rebuffed. If you market your work, rejections are inevitable, regardless of who you are or how many times you've been published.

But even though they can leave you devastated, what you do next speaks volumes about your character.

Here are a few famous authors who let the strength of their character speak loudly:

1.  John Grisham's A Time to Kill - rejected 28 times.

2.  Hermann Melville's Moby Dick - labelled as being old-fashioned.

3.  Hemingway's - The Sun Also Rises, was found to be tedious. He went on to make his prose such that when readers read his work, it took their breath away.

4.  J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - rejected 12 times.

5.  Joseph Heller renamed his book Catch-22 after 22 rejections.

6.  Stephen King was told that his negative utopia Carrie would never sell.

7.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel - rejected 5 times - won The Man Booker Prize.

8.  William Golding's Lord of the Flies - rejected for being boring.

9.  Little Women, author Louisa May Alcott - advised to stick to teaching.

10. Audrey Niffenegger - 25 rejections for The Time Traveler's Wife - sold 7 million copies.

There are many more, but the thing to note is that these authors had something very important in common. Tenacity. They wrote a novel, spent endless hours polishing it, and when faced with rejection, chose to keep marketing.

Here at IWSG we want you to embrace rejections as part of a writer's life. They do not measure your worth or your ability. They are given by ordinary people like you and me, their opinions based on factors and biases we can't control. When faced with rejection, take however long to recuperate, then take you and your strong character back to the keyboard.

Happy Writing

       who received enough rejections for Dead Witness to wallpaper her ensuite.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our awesome co-hosts today are Eva Solar Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Last month we participated in the A to Z Challenge, posting daily writing inspiration. Thanks to those who stopped or followed us during the Challenge. And a very special thanks to the IWSG admins for going above and beyond last month - Lynda Young, Susan Gourley/Kelley, L. Diane Wolfe, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler and Joy Campbell.

We are switching to Mondays only for the next few months. Our goal is to bring you quality content every week from the admins and guests. We want this to be the best site online for writers and authors.

If you are new to this site or the IWSG group, we encourage you to download our free book, The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

If you have any questions or would like to see certain topics covered, please let us know. We are here to serve you!

Monday, May 4, 2015

5 Ways to Recover from Writer's Fatigue

There are many reasons a person can experience writer's fatigue. It’s that feeling of being spent, used up, and drained of creativity. It can happen after any intensive session of writing, editing, battling deadlines, and even taking part in online challenges like the April A-Z Challenge. While we gain a lot from all these activities, they can also wear us out. If this has happened to you, then below are my suggestions on how to refill that creative well.

1. Take a short break and stop trying to “be the writer.” Be something else for a while. Turn off the computer and experience some life. There is no better well-filler than life. Even mundane life. We get our ideas and creativity from those unexpected places, the bland, the interesting, the unusual places that life has to offer.

2. Read a good book. Not a book you have to read because you agreed to write a review. Not a book you promised to read because it was written by a friend. Just a book you enjoy. One that brings with it little to no pressure. No matter the subject matter or genre, good books inspire.

3. Write something new. Step out of your comfort zone and try writing within a different genre than you would normally. Try non-fiction. Flash fiction. Explore a different topic.

4. Learn something new. Feeding the brain with new and interesting information or different approaches to an old method, can open the mind to new possibilities, new ideas, and new avenues of creativity.

5. Get physical. Exercise gets the blood pumping and pushes those cobwebs away to make room for new, energized thoughts and creations.

What works best for you while recovering from writing fatigue?

Don’t forget, the IWSG Day is this Wednesday when we encourage you to share your insecurities or offer reassurance to others. If you haven’t already, you can sign up for it on our sign-up page.