The 3rd Annual Writers Worth Day

It’s here – Writers Worth Day, the one day a year we writers collaborate on increasing our expectations and our business savvy! This year came up on me unexpectedly, I’ll admit. But it’s never too late to celebrate the fact that you have a marketable set of skills and deserve to stand up for them.

Today let’s reinforce our belief in our jobs as our businesses. Let’s establish good business practices that include setting rates, setting work boundaries, and setting a standard of professionalism that echoes through to our client projects and communications. Feel free to share your experiences of when you last felt unappreciated by a client, when you felt valued by a client, and when you finally stood up for yourself as a legitimate business person deserving of respect and fair wages.

Today, spread the word. Make an effort to tell your blog community about expecting more. Help a writer on a forum or on Twitter make a better choice. Inspire another writer to build a better business practice. Tell your own stories in order to teach others through example – bad or good.

The goal of Writers Worth Day is to help one more writer improve their earnings and business potential. We are not in competition with each other – we are in negotiations with clients. Be the mentor or the friendly email that gives another writer the gumption to change a habit, ask for more, amend the marketing targets. And please, let me know right here in the comments section how you spread the word or helped another. Let’s advocate the value of experienced writing talent.

Also, thanks to everyone for sending me your tips for the contest! It was a tight race, but I’m proud to announce the winner of the Peter Bowerman book of choice is…..

Lucinda Gunnin!

Lucinda really took the spirit of Writers Worth Day to heart. Her entry is below. Thank you for all your entries. I appreciate it!

“The two best tips I have for writers are combined from my atrocious experience freelancing for a local newspaper, an experience that taught me the hard way that just because an editor asks for something doesn’t mean they will pay for it.

“When negotiating a freelancing contract, two important things need to be considered. Make sure that the job pays for your research time as well as your writing time. Sure, a gig that pays me $50 for an hour’s writing sounds good, but if I spend three hours researching it, that’s not a good wage at all. Bump it up to four hours of research and you’re lucky to make $10 an hour — not acceptable. Along those same lines, be sure to negotiate a kill fee into any assignment that you are given. In the negotiations of the kill fee, especially for time-sensitive materials, include a clause about how soon the kill fee kicks in and rights revert to you.

“My mistake was agreeing to write a series of articles for the local newspapers, an in-depth analysis with interviews to back it up, of the local school funding crisis. My contract offered good terms and paid on publication. I spent a day and produced a several piece package as described by the editor’s request. She published one of the pieces and then told me they would hold on to the others for later use. They were never used and instead of $250 for my day’s work, I got $75, the equivalent of Illinois’ minimum wage for the hours I worked.”

Lucinda gets it. And her advice is golden.

How are you celebrating your worth today?

About the author




  • Eileen May 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I'm celebrating it by
    1) closing a deal for a $4000 project due in a month
    2) working out the schedule for 8 large projects that will take me through the end of the year
    3) starting on a new ongoing contract today that will add another $2000 to my monthly income

    This is my wish for all freelance writers: that they celebrate writers' worth day every year as profitably as I am this year. 🙂

  • Lori May 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Yay, Eileen! Congrats! And it came from the attitude of expecting to be treated professionally and not settling for less than you're worth, didn't it? And hard work – always that! But with a payoff that solid, why not put work into it?

  • Eileen May 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I've always been really really fortunate in that my husband earns a great wage. That means there's no pressure on me to bring in income to pay the regular bills. And that, in turn, means I never have to take a project just to pay the bills. Like dogs that can sense fear, I think prospects can sense desperation. If you choose your prospects (and not the other way around), and project an air of total confidence in your ability and your fee, they're much less likely to try to take advantage of you. I am to the point now where clients are saying humbly, "Can you squeeze us into your schedule next month?" and stuff like that. It's a great place to be.

  • Ashley Festa May 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I really appreciate you taking the time to celebrate a Writers Worth Day. It's really inspiring! I started with content mills just to have some cash rolling in, but very quickly found that doing that work for that pay made me feel as though my soul was being sucked from me. Content mills are the dementors of the freelance world! 🙂

    I am a REAL writer and a REAL editor, and I deserve to be paid as one. I recently also convinced another freelance writer friend that she's too good for content mills too. She worked on some calculations and has a plan for leaving them behind.

  • Damaria Senne May 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Nice! Congratulations Eileen. I hope to celebrate Writer's Worth Day as profitably next year.

  • Sarah Nagel May 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for organizing this Lori. What an important message. Way to go Eileen! It's great to hear about other writers finding great projects/pay.

  • Valerie May 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Excellent topic! I will definitely blog on this.

    Let's see… I recently felt disrespected when a potential client told me she loved my writing and asked if I would write 3 articles on spec for her. An audition, if you will. I nicely explained why I don't do that and we moved on.

    A few days ago I spoke with another potential client who told me she and her team were excited about the skills and vision I could bring to their project and that they really hoped I would come on board. She treated me like a professional and treated the craft of writing the same way. Love it! That's the kind of person I want to work with.

  • Paula May 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Upon reading how Lucinda's in-depth analysis was on local school funding crisis was killed after the first piece ran, I thought, "Sounds like something that would happen in my town!" Then she mentioned Illinois. Bingo. If by chance we are in the same town, her piece was likely killed by pressure from the Board of Education or individual school board members. When that happens, the publication should eat the loss, not the writer.

    I wish I were celebrating he day as fully as Eileen is! I have a couple articles to work on and a column to write today, which is more than I was working on two weeks ago.

    As someone who often unofficially mentors new writers, I always caution them about content mills, encourage them to aim for real publications (off- of on-line) that will provide more respectable credits, and explain why a no- or low-pay credit for a real publication will do you far more good than a low-pay mill piece.

  • Wendy May 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I just wanted to shout out a congrats to Lucinda for winning the contest. I really liked the tip. What better to teach others then to share your own mistakes?

    Today I'm working. Not for clients but for myself. I've got my own project in the works. No matter day to start plugging away at it, then Writer's Worth Day.

    Happy Writer's Worth Day, Lori and everyone else!

  • Wendy May 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Okay, here it is Writer's Worth Day and my spelling is atrocious. Oh, the irony.

  • Cathy May 14, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    1st congratulations to Eileen-fabulous! I just lost a $4,000 gig last month when a long-time and regular client backed out at the last minute–that brings to mind the tip to not start projects without getting things in writng. I always do, so this could have been a lot worse if I started the project without the "official" go-ahead.

    Before I saw this post, I just posted to my blog about the use of the term "medical ghostwriting" in a study that refers to the unethical behavior of skewing results by writers hired by drug companies as a ghostwriter.

    I am celebrating that medical ghostwriter does not equal unethical behavior. There are legitimate, ethical and professional medical ghostwriters out there!

    Don't slap a negative label on all!

  • Georganna Hancock M.S. May 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Congrats, Lori, on another celebration of our value to employers and society.

    I noted the occasion today on my [now better-looking] current hangout at Posterous.

    Still working on getting the posts over to A Writer's Edge, but at least they are tweeted!

  • Devon Ellington May 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Congrats, Eileen! Woo-hoo!

    And congrats to all those who dump the content mills!

    Today, I handicapped the Preakness race card, I started Elsa on her new course of treatment, and I'm about to dive back into the screenplay.

  • Lori May 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    "Like dogs that sense fear…" great description, Eileen! I see it, too. When I'm confident on the phone or in email, the rates aren't questioned.

    Ashley, I LOVE hearing that! :)) Great having you here celebrating with everyone. Please make it a habit!

    Hi Damaria! Good seeing you again!

    Sarah, I'm very happy you're here, too. Eileen is an inspiration, as are many who visit here regularly.

    Valerie, it's night-and-day thinking, isn't it? Glad you were firm with that client! And I'm really glad the other client is treating you with respect. Amen.

    Paula, your pom-poms are in the mail. LOL You are a strong cheerleader for this blog, this cause, and other writers. We need to clone you.

    Wendy, for today you get a pass on the spelling. Everyone makes mistakes, especially in the comments section.

    Good for you, Cathy! Just because you ghostwrite doesn't mean the research is any less legitimate. It just means the client understands his/her limits. 🙂

    Georganna, I love your new site! Thanks for letting us know where it is. Some of us (ahem – not pointing any fingers at myself) don't always see the redirect…. sorry it took me so long to get there! It does look fabulous.

    Devon, it wouldn't be a celebration without you! Ditto the content mill woo-hoos and raise you a thumbs up for the Preakness gig! I'm equally thrilled to see Miss Elsa responding to the vet's regimen.

  • Eileen May 16, 2010 at 1:19 am

    @Valerie: the potential client loved your writing, but yet she still wanted you to do them on spec. Sometimes I think prospective clients ask this just because they can. Good for you for moving on!

    @Cathy, re the unethical medical ghostwriters: one bad apple spoils everyone’s rep. I write for supplement companies, and we face a similar problem. One bad company offers a contaminated product with cheap or dangerous ingredients, or writers make claims they aren’t legally allowed to, and it makes the rest of us look bad.

    It’s great to see to many confident writers out there who understand their worth and aren’t afraid to stand up for it.