Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Funny

I mostly write for magazines, so I scour the net for magazines of interest from time to time and look up the writers' guidelines, since that's the easiest way to google. Normally writer guidelines would be extremely comprehensive, covering details from the wordcount, topic, by-line, rights, acceptance / rejection rates and the magazines' working timelines when it comes to submissions. Very rarely do magazines list out the writing rates or payments. Generally these are the non-paying markets.

I understand that there are plenty of non-profit publications that need writing contributors. But some publications follow the standard business model and still refuse to pay writers. It's funny as much as unfortunate that there are magazines that feel that writers are not valuable or important enough to be compensated for their expertise.

Once I wrote in to a publication, as I was enticed by their "JOBS" page. I clicked on it and there was a list of posts that needed to be filled. WRITERS was at the top. Wow, I thought, a magazine that values writers, mashaallah. The job post and description for WRITERS, was followed by layout editor, graphic designers, HR admin, finance executive, and another few, (I'm recalling from memory as that was a few years back).

I wrote in immediately to the editor as this magazine caught my interest and the editor wrote back immediately too - just as enthused. Unfortunately, after the pleasantaries, the editor eloquently explained that "the writing posts are non-paying positions, as we do not have enough funds to compensate writers."

I was bewildered and wrote back asking if the other posts warranted compensation. Yes, he said, all of the other jobs are paying jobs.

I get it. You need to pay graphic editors and finance administrative in order to run a business. But the writers? Wait, what do writers do that make them so unimportant. If they can just be discarded, as they are so irrelevant, then remove writers from working for that magazine all together. See what happens then.

It's funny but sad and I can only imagine that it builds to the frustration of other writers too. We have all gotten the "writers should write out of their passion and not for their need of worldly incentives," (aka, income). Sorry, writing is my income and as much as I try to participate in charity through my work, I still need to look for paying jobs. Writing for free can be fun but not having an income is not all that funny.

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