When I first began to write, I felt as if I were talking to the wind. I typed up manuscript after manuscript and sent my precious words to bit time magazines. It turned out that I was the only one who thought they were precious. I collected enough rejection slips to paper a wall of my “office” — a corner of the family room where I had set up a card table, a portable typewriter, and a ream of paper.
I’ll admit that I was discouraged. But in a family with four children, a cat that had just produced six kittens in the clothes hamper, two large iguanas, a South African Jackson chameleon that lived in a fish tank and ate live meal worms, and my son’s pet snake — there was little time to mope. I decided to switch from the long-winded, academic articles nobody wanted to read and write, instead, about things I knew first hand — things that happened in my family and, likely as not, in families everywhere.
I approached the local weekly newspaper and offered to write a weekly column of short, family oriented pieces that would make their readers laugh — and sometimes make them cry. I didn’t ask for pay, and the editor said he would give me a chance. Before long, people began talking about the “Coffee Break” column that someone named Mary Robb was writing. The editor offered to pay me one dollar an article. I agreed.
Did I give my writing away too cheaply? I don’t think so. It gave me a chance to establish a pen name. It gave me an audience that asked for more. It taught me the discipline of writing for a weekly deadline. It made me search my brain for new subjects to write about. And — the biggest bonus of all — I began to use the seeds of these articles to write longer, more detailed stories that I sold to magazines for much, much more than one dollar!
Giving away my writing to a no pay/low pay market was the smartest career move I ever made. It showed me that focus is important and that writing about what I know pays off. It taught me that the joy of seeing my words in print outweighs dollar signs. And it gave me the self confidence I needed to keep trying.
I would do it all over again!
Contributed by Marilyn Donahue
When I realized that God was calling me to write, I asked Him to provide not only the ideas, but the opportunities. My first opportunity to get published came in 2003 when I saw an announcement in our church bulletin. The women’s ministry was going to start their own newsletter, and they were looking for women from our church, who were interested in contributing articles, recipes, etc.
I prayed, submitted not only a short article, but a comic strip as well, and my contributions were accepted! I was sooo excited. The newsletter didn’t pay anything, but not only was I helping to inspire the ladies of my church, but I was establishing some publishing credits. I have since been published in every quarterly issue, which has helped hone my writing skills.
And even though this was no-pay, it provided the open door to meet my friend and mentor, Nancy Sanders, who has helped my writing career blossom.
Never look down at a no-pay writing opportunity, especially when it is heaven sent. You never know what plans God has for you through them!
Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio
Here are five reasons to consider no pay/low pay assignments.
1. You are honing your craft. It may take a while to get that book published. While you wait for the email or letter informing you it is accepted, you are continuing to write.
2. You create a presence. Keeping your name “out there” may open up a door in the future.
3. Editors read more than submissions. Who knows when some article you have written for a low pay magazine might be read by an editor who is looking for just your style of writing and will contact you. Stranger things have happened!
4. Good deeds are remembered. Let’s say you write for a low-pay, no-pay market semi-regularly. If the editor of the publication is asked to refer someone, do you think your name might come to mind? Usually, helping others will come back to you.
5. Although you won’t get rich on low-pay markets, it may just help pay for ink, paper, subscriptions, etc.. These things are necessary and somewhat expensive when you total everything up. A few low-pay checks will help alleviate some of the financial burden.
While some writers say they deserve to be paid well for everything they write, I think no pay/low pay projects that help a new magazine or e-zine get started are a nice way of paying back for all the help others gave you.
Each writer must determine for themselves whether they will involve themselves in no pay/low pay projects. I think it is worth considering.
No pay/low pay advocate, Gloria
You, LORD, are just in all your ways, faithful in all your works.
Part of our ministry as writers for the Lord is writing for the no-pay, low-pay markets. There is one in particular that I’m fond of, called Prayer Works. This is a publication by a company in Oregon printed specifically for people in retirement homes. My husband began a church service at a local retirement center 15 or so years ago, and though he’s with Jesus, and my church’s current pastor is now preaching there, I continue to go every week to the services before going to my own church. The publishing company sends me enough free copies to hand out to each person at the service. They love these and look forward to receiving them each week. Many say they keep all their old copies. The pamphlets are small and simple, asking for prayers for various people which is great to remind the ones of higher age they are still useful for God’s work. They also print a joke, plus a poem or devotional type of message on the front page. I sent them a few things which they published at no pay which is fine with me. Some they haven’t published, but that is certainly their choice.
Try this market with the thought that you might be encouraging people that sometimes feel helpless and discouraged. Even to bring a smile.
Wonderful payment, after all!
I love writing for the no-pay/low-pay markets! Every year, along with my book deadlines, I try to contribute regularly to three to five different publishers who pay me little or nothing at all.
There are a variety of benefits, but the one benefit I want to share about today is the fact that editors working in the no-pay/low-pay market are usually interested in climbing the ladder. They don’t want to make a career working for pennies, but are mostly in their current position as a starting point.
Over the years, there have been numerous times when an editor I’ve developed a relationship with in a no-pay/low-pay market, suddenly announces to me that she’s got a better paying position with a bigger publisher. And then she asks me the question every writer dreams about, “Will you write something for me in my new position with this new publisher?”
If you’re on the fence about writing frequently for the no-pay/low-pay market, consider this possibility. Establish yourself as a reliable and trustworthy writer in these markets and chances are that when your editor lands a bigger job with a better publisher, she’ll invite you to climb the ladder of success with her.
-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.”