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What It Takes

What It Takes

Should Writers Be Paid For Everything?

By Callie Oettinger | Published: January 20, 2017

I received a question following my last post (“Common Sense“), which is tied to writers being paid for their work, and I’m still thinking about the question, and my answer, almost two weeks later.

Here’s the question:

You argue that writers shouldn’t work for free, but isn’t that exactly what they are doing when they spend time on social media? What about their blogs?

I see both as examples of writing as marketing, and no one is paying them.

Doesn’t that go against your point?

Here’s my answer:

On your question, I approach it as I do my yard.

If I mow/rake/weed/etc my own yard, I have to do the work, but I benefit in the future. In the beginning, my yard might be crap, but in a few years it could be a glorious masterpiece due to all the work put into it. I don’t get monetary payment up front, but I learn how to do things on my own, gain professional experience, and benefit from the hours of repeated actions, which help me trouble-shoot in the future, and make me more knowledgeable about the craft. When I sell my house, that yard becomes a selling point and thus has monetary worth.

If someone else maintains my yard, he goes home after doing the work, and doesn’t get any of the future benefits – but, he does get paid, and my neighbor might hire him because he likes the look of my lawn.

So if my site/book/etc is my lawn, I can choose to do the work myself or hire someone else – but in the end the site/book/etc is mine and I benefit from the growth (and possible future sale), which is a type of payment itself.

If I write for someone else’s site, however, there’s no ownership in the future, so I want payment now, kind of like the guy/crew maintaining yards. I can’t count on a neighbor hiring me. I need something that pays the bills.

So both models offer a form of payment — one more immediate than the other. As the person doing the work, I decide which form I’ll take. If I’m writing for “exposure,” I’d rather do it on my own terms instead of helping to drive traffic to people who have money to pay – Huff Post – and don’t.

Going back over the question and answer now, my issue with writing for free isn’t the giving away work for free part.

Long-time readers of this site know that Steve, Shawn, and I are advocates of giving away work as a good way to reach new audiences. HOWEVER, we set the terms for what is given away — and how it is given away — and base the giveaways within the Black Irish Books and Steven Pressfield platforms, neither of which popped up overnight. We’ve been at it on Steve’s site for almost ten years, and he had a static site long before that.

My biggest issue is giving away your opportunity to build your own platform. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
6 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Love Story Cheat Sheet /Controlling Idea (Theme)

By Shawn Coyne | Published: January 13, 2017

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's Adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright’s Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

This is the fourth in my series about love story. If you’d like to catch up, here is the first one, here is the second one, and here is the third one.

If there is one question I get more than any other it’s this:

“Could you tell me what the controlling ideas/themes, obligatory scenes and conventions are for Genre X?”

Well, I could.

And I did go through the OSs and Cs for Thriller and Crime in The Story Grid book as well as those in the Redemption story (part of the Morality Internal Content Genre) too over at www.storygrid.com.

(And I plan on analyzing each of the twelve content genres, plus some of the reality genres too, with serious coursework specificity in mind before I leave this mortal coil…click here if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.)

But come on…part of being a writer is exploring the story universe you wish to enter all by your lonesome. And there’s no better way than reading a whole bunch of your favorite novels from a particular genre and then compiling a list of what they all have in common.

That’s a lot of work. I know. I’ve done it. You should too.

Getting the answers to the test so you don’t have to study is rather lame, but I get it.

Just like the next guy or gal, I like to know that something is worth learning before I book a long trip into the autodidact’s lonely intellectual desert for an extended stay.

So as I pick up where I left off with the mini-love story genre course I’ve been writing here for What It Takes, I thought I’d just throw down a three part cheat sheet for love story.

So here you go:

What’s the global value at stake in love story? (more…)

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What It Takes

What It Takes

Common Sense

By Callie Oettinger | Published: January 6, 2017

I started off 2017 digging into two publishing rabbit holes.

The first one is related to a guy named Paine. He wrote a pamphlet that went viral a few hundred years ago and is still being read today.

Not long after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Thomas Paine hit U.S. soil. He worked, got political at pubs, and wrote. Paine toiled away on a series of letters to be run in local newspapers. After finding himself way over word count for letters, he decided to publish a pamphlet instead, titled “Common Sense.”

Here’s what your high school teacher didn’t share about “Common Sense” and Paine:

When it came time to publish, Paine went to a printer/publisher/bookseller — a guy named Robert Bell. Bell struck a deal with Paine. He’d print the pamphlet, help promote it, and then split the profits with Paine. If there weren’t any profits, Paine would “make good” with Bell on the printing. Kind of a mash-up of today’s traditional and self-publishing worlds.

Bell printed the pamphlet and then advertised it in local newspapers. Demand increased and “Common Sense” took off. Its popularity lead Paine to add an index and other commentary in advance of the next print run.

Before the reprint, however, Paine heard about the death of General Montgomery and the struggles in the north, and decided to buy mittens for the soldiers. It was winter. They were in camps. No heaters. So . . . Off Paine went to Bell, to obtain his share of the profits.

Bell said there weren’t any profits.

No profits? How was that possible? There was a demand for a reprint, thus there had to be profits.

If this article was the movie Goodfellas, this would be the time to cue a voice-over from Ray Liotta, giving the full skinny on exactly how things went down. (more…)

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