Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 26 May 2012

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

I’m all for ‘live and let live’, especially when it comes to creative types, but too many people think that making art of any kind isn’t work... Well, no... it’s art, but, you know what, people get paid for that too!
I am not going to have a go at anyone in particular. After all, I don’t charge you money to read my blog, not even indirectly by selling ad-space on it, and I wouldn’t dream of ever ‘monetising’ it. I give you my words because I like to share, and because having a blog makes me think about something every day... something other than the work I know I should be doing, and am paid to do. I also give you other bits and bobs for free: a short story here, a bit of flash fiction there, a joke every so often. In return, you give me a little of your attention for a while, and, if you like what I do you might spread the word. hopefully, in the fullness of time, I will build a reputation that will help when it comes to selling whatever it is I’m selling... my art.
I read someone today patting herself on the back for having an article accepted for a magazine. I was very pleased for her until I read that she had done the piece for free. Not only had she not been paid, which, of course, she should have been, but, she also created a situation where said magazine now doesn’t expect to have to pay its contributors. If one writer will write for free then why pay anyone to write? If one writer will write for free there must be others, mustn’t there? And, before you know it, there goes the neighbourhood. Suddenly, people with jobs and other ways of earning money have wonderful hobbies writing for nothing, and professional writers are out of work.
The magazine in question has a cover price and sells advertising space, and everyone in the office is paid, from the ad sales staff to the editor and publisher... everyone except the people that actually do the writing. Tell me, in whose World is that a good idea?
So, if you are a lovely amateur, and, honestly, I don’t really blame you for wanting that by-line... but, if you are a lovely amateur, do yourself a favour and get paid for your work. Earn like the professionals do, compete on the same terms, and show us all what you can do. Don’t think that, because you wrote this piece for free, you’ll get paid the next time, because, when you stick your hand out for your first pay-check, there’ll be another amateur right behind you who’ll do that gig for free in order to get his first by-line.  
You thought you’d earned the next job by giving generously of your time and talents the first time around. You didn’t. All you did was prove that the written word is worth nothing, that anybody can write, and that someone will always do it for free. 
Shame on you.


  1. Greg Smith See, you keep saying that your blog is full of snark, but to me it's just full of common sense. Maybe that makes me a naturally snarky person, I just don't know. What I do know is that whenever I set aside the time from my day to read your blog (which I do as often as I can) it always feels like time incredibly well spent. I don't have a great deal of spare time these days, and that which I do have is very precious, which gives you an idea I hope of just how much I value the insights, the quips, the sneaky previews of your work and everything else that your blog comprises. Please Please PLEASE continue and don't change it one jot. (please)

  2. Couldn't agree more, Nik. Very well put, and it needed to be said. I think the very same goes for selling your work off too cheap. It lowers the bar for everyone. Another point of concern, applying particularly to e-books (and I'm referring to Amazon here, because my knowledge of other vendors is very limited), is the sheer amount of novels - mostly first novels - offered free in order to get our attention. How is a writer expected to make a living anymore? It almost doesn't seem viable these days.
    Not sure about anyone else, but I just can't afford to put out an entire novel and not have it put any rice in my bowl.

    Keep up the great blogs.