“…for the laborer deserves his wages.” Luke 10:7
When I began my writing career many years ago, I firmly believed in the above Biblical quote, and still do, with some modifications. It seemed to me that if I were going to use my time and God-given talents, I should be compensated in some way. I think we all prefer to be paid (well paid, if possible!) for our work, but I soon learned that there are times when working for free (or very low pay) is a good thing.
When a writer is just starting out, these appearances in print will add (or begin!) a much-needed resume. And, this type of work will build up writing skills, especially cover letters and following submission guidelines. Often, writing skills can be put to use for causes you believe in. For instance, I often wrote articles for my church newsletter, and I compiled and wrote the history of this church for its 50th anniversary. This required many hours of interviews, organization, and the actual writing, but I was glad to do it and was very pleased with the resulting book. Recently, I contributed to a survey about Lenten practices, and my answers may be used (for no pay) in a forthcoming spiritual book. Again, I was happy to do this as it meant something to me.
Occasionally, I have also helped friends with publicity and other needs related to volunteer or organizations. And while I was a re-entry student at the local community college, I submitted a short, humorous piece to their literary annual, and that was accepted and published. I didn’t get paid but it was interesting to have professors and other students see my work.
For about two years, I wrote a 4-6 page newsletter for a needlework shop and received a 40% discount on anything I purchased, no small matter for an avid needleworker like myself! Over the years, too, I’ve enjoyed submitting tips and hints to needlework and women’s magazines. It was always fun to see them in print, and I usually received no more than $10 or $15 for each one.
Today I occasionally write a short story for no-pay children’s online magazines, such as the Catholic/Christian publication, My Light. And I recently had a short, low-paying piece in the writers’ magazine, Cross and Quill. Also, you never know when a non paying market will suddenly have the funds to pay writers. It can happen!
I must say that at times my work for low pay/no pay markets (that shall remain nameless) has not been too pleasant. Perhaps the editors demanded too many rewrites that took up much writing time, then occasionally rejected it anyway. Or, they rewrote my work themselves until it was no longer recognizable. Sometimes I had to wait a year or more to receive the small payment check.
I still believe the laborer is worthy of wages, and working for low pay/no pay markets is most often a judgment call. It can be rewarding in many ways other than monetary, but each situation needs to be evaluated on it own merits. Then the writer can proceed as he or she feels called.
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers