So, given what’s been going on in the news lately, you could be forgiven for not reading this handy-dandy users guide to creative-types that popped up a few days ago. It’s an interesting read, if only for the impressive shade of excrement it provides.
It should be noted that the author is (a) probably attempting to sell a service to corporate-types, and (b) likely generalizing as a means to accomplishing (a). Nonetheless, said generalizing is annoying, especially if you happen to be one of those kooky creative types that he’s generalizing.
As such, there is one key point that I, being one of the aforementioned creative types, would like to address in a civil, if pragmatic manner.
“Pay Them Poorly”
This is a prevalent meme. A reoccurring concept that rises up whenever someone–be it an editor, a corporate client, DC comics, pirate downloaders or Amanda Palmer–wants as much as they can get for as little as they can get away with paying. The creative as Santa Claus, providing gifts to all and sundry. Art for art’s sake, the book that must be written, information wants to be free, payment in exposure, all that jazz.
In and of itself, wanting something for nothing is not a crime. But you get what you pay for.
Paying me poorly does not increase my creativity. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I approach a job, be it a tie-in novel, a short story submission, or a travel brochure, my first consideration is how doing said job will benefit me. Is the money good? If not, what else do I get out of it? If the answer is, respectively, ‘no’ and ‘nothing’, I don’t do the job. I find another one. One of the perks of being a freelance writer is that I’m free to do just that.
One of the downsides is, of course, that I invariably have to do that a lot. Because brother, there are a lot of folks out there wanting my best work and first international rights for a hearty handshake and the promise of twenty five copies sold worth of exposure.
That said, ‘payment’ can come in a plethora of forms. Money is the best, in my view, but there are other valid forms, depending on your needs. Is it a project/editor/cause you want to be attached to? Are there potential professional connections to be made? Will a freebie here lead to money later? Is it a form of guerilla marketing that will benefit you?
Basically, the payment should always be equal to the job, in your view. You, as the writer/artist/musician/whatever, should always endeavour to be paid in full, to your satisfaction. If that’s five cents a word, great. If it’s in page views or advertising revenue, or the promise of at least twenty-five new readers, more power to you. But always–ALWAYS–get paid, and paid well, for your effort.
Don’t let someone ‘pay you poorly’ because ‘it’s supposed to stimulate creativity’ or because ‘you should be doing what you love for the love’. Don’t let others dictate your worth. That’s your job. It may take you time, trial and a whole lot of error to determine said worth, but you’ll figure it out eventually.
That’s the theory, at any rate.