…MAYBE IT’S THE proliferation of social media; 140 characters on Twitter, as many as you like on Facebook. Maybe there’s a valid reason? Maybe, like oil or energy, it cannot be replenished. Well – no. No maybes required. The devaluation of writing is through sheer greed and a lack of regard for art and the product of creativity.
The worst example to date is the Huffington Post. No matter who you are, no matter what you write and how much of it you write about, they do not pay. Well known persona? Doesn’t matter. HuffPo worth $400m will not pay you a cent in any currency. Get this. As the content provider, you are expected to live off exposure. I know people who have died from exposure literally and figuratively, because you can’t withdraw exposure from a bank machine. Hey barman, don’t worry, yeah, I know I owe you, but I’m getting some exposure next week. Put it on the tab. Also check out Chuck Wendig and Will Wheaton’s brilliant responses on the topic.
“If I was paying someone to write something because I want it to get advertising, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.” – Editor in chief of Huffington Post UK , Stephen Hull.
^Can you believe the gaul of that piece of shit? The keyboard slave master. Repugnant piece of work. And he’s proud!!! 😐
Writers used to (and still are) paid by the word, often ranging from 0.03c to 0.06 ($15/$30 for 500 words). Not exactly Lamborghini money, but still funds that can buy things. Add them up over a month and depending on your output, it’s a decent chunk of money.
Likewise, short stories can be per word, but are commonly by the story, say $50 for a 2000 word horror piece. You’re not going to feel the pristine sands of St.Lucia between your toes from it, but again, you can make some decent money provided you have found some good publishers. But short stories aren’t like producing a blog post (which HuffPo relies on). One is 100% creative, the other relying on facts and information and then some lesser creativity to weave a news item together.
How did it get this way?
With the advent of fast internet connections, downloading media in all its forms became ridiculously easy. There was MegaUpload and Pirate Bay (still), providing free music, films and software. Over the last 15 years a certain generation in particular, has become accustomed to free. Free everything. ‘Yeah, I love such and such a rapper’. Did they buy the album? No. ‘Have you seen Kill Bill? It’s amazing!’ Did they buy the DVD? Maybe.
Has writing sunk to that level? Whereby everything should be free? Although writing hasn’t suffered the same fate as music and film in terms of illegal downloading, I don’t doubt there are sites where scumbags do just that. Loosely estimating, it has taken me 250 hours to get to the end of a fourth edit of my manuscript. Even if we discount any further editing, time spent by beta readers, or an editor, it is a huge amount of time spent crafting one book.
It utterly fucking saddens me, that appreciation for art is being eroded…actually wait a sec. Art is still appreciated, but the concept of payment is not common enough, to the point where artists behind the work are not appreciated. A scenario similar to that packet of mince in your fridge. People want to eat, eat and consume, but they do not care where it came from or how. They want it. NOW! They sure as fuck are not paying for it if possible. What are they a sucker?
Writers can still make a living. Books still sell, Ebooks sell. Magazines online or otherwise still attract subscribers. Online websites still require writers. You can still sell your short stories. But reality is hiding in the shadows ready to karate kick you around the pus (Scottish for face) because despite the outlets and need for writing, creative or non-fictional, the alphabet we use to create it is being tragically devalued. People want free scripts, free blog posts, they want everything FREE. It can’t continue. I hope.
Conversely to Stephen Hull’s comments, this blog post would have been more authentic and I would have enjoyed it much more if I’d been paid for it. So, sorry for the lack of heart and shoddy writing…