Writers Worth Two: Are You A Flasher?

Even though I’m writing this before I head out, I know by now we’ll be in the car driving toward the Canadian Rockies. The plan is to stay in Jasper, AB for a few days, then down near Banff and Lake Louise before hightailing it back to Seattle for our flight home. I promise to bore you with the sights and tales when I return.


What a great two weeks it has been! And what a great way to round out this week’s posts – Devon Ellington takes on the “exposure” scenario in one of the funniest ways possible. If you don’t know Devon, you’ve not been paying attention. She’s one of the most prolific writers I know, holding what seems like a gazillion pen names and working in more genres than I have shoes, and I have a lot of shoes. She makes hard work look easy, but this woman devotes a ton of time to her craft, and it shows.
Thank you, Devon. The celebration would not have been complete without your words of wisdom! I appreciate your friendship and support. Big virtual hugs. 🙂
You’re Not a Flasher, Are You?
By Devon Ellington
  
Before you wonder why I asked you about your personal life, think
a moment:  How often have you been
offered “exposure” in lieu of money for your writing?
Cultures leave unwanted babies out  in the wild for exposure, and it’s not
because they treasure them. 
Flashers need exposure. 
Film needs exposure. We need cash, the same way the plumber and the
doctor and the accountant need it. 
“Exposure” doesn’t pay the bills. 
Nor does “pay per click after 500 clicks”.  You expect me to put my time and effort into
writing a good piece?  I need to know
what you’re paying.  Up front.  Not maybe-someday, depending on the leg work
I do to drive traffic to YOUR site.  This
is my business, not my hobby.  This is
how I pay the bills.  If you’re not going
to participate in a fair exchange for time and skill spent, I will work with
someone who will. 
No one is going to respect your worth until you do.  If you believe that you are only worth $1 an
article instead of $1 word, no one else has the reason to believe you are worth
more, either.  This is not a business
that rewards false modesty.  If you’ve
bothered to learn the craft and added that special magic called “talent” –
-you’re worth a living wage.
Everyone thinks they can write. 
How many people have you met who claim they’d write a book “if they had
the time”?  Some of them might start one,
someday.  Then, lo and behold, when they
discover there’s actually work involved, they stop.  Most people think “anyone” can write a
newsletter or a brochure.  Then why
aren’t they writing the materials for their own business, if it’s so easy.  Time? 
If it “only takes a few minutes”, they can forego a few minutes of Angry
Birds and do it.  But they don’t —
because they can’t.  No matter how they
justify it to themselves, it’s not about time. 
It’s about skill.
Well-written materials connect the consumer to the business.  The writing makes the consumer feel he
matters — matters beyond simply opening his wallet, but that his needs and his
interests matter to the business.  If I
have a choice between a business that knows my name and greets me with a smile
when I come in, and one where the employee is far too busy on his cell phone to
bother with me, which do you think I will patronize?  The one that makes me feel welcome.
Good writing makes the reader feel welcome.
It’s a skill.  It deserves
fair compensation.  Not mere exposure.
 Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both
fiction and non-fiction.  Her romantic
suspense novel ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT (as Annabel Aidan) was named   a “hot book for cold Cape Cod nights”.  HEX BREAKER will release shortly from
Solstice Publishing.  Her plays are
produced in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Australia.  She’s published over 200 articles and short
stories in a variety of publications, and writes newsletters, event scripts,
press releases, speeches, and more for business clients all over the
world.  She teaches writing to individuals,
groups, and businesses throughout the country, both online and in person.  Visit her website www.devonellingtonwork.com
and her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee:  http://devonellington.wordpress.com.

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Comments

  • Kimberly Ben May 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I'll admit it – I've fallen for the "write in exchange of exposure" offer. When you say "Exposure doesn't pay the bills," truer words have never been spoken. These offers are pitched to seem like a win-win opportunity for you (the writer) and the person obviously sourcing for free content. It's not.

    Reply
  • Cathy Miller May 25, 2012 at 11:47 am

    What a great piece, Devon. Only once waaay back at the beginning of my business did I fall for an industry connection offering referrals in exchange for work. I guess he thought the fact that he'd introduce me to the flasher made it a good deal. 🙂

    The referrals never happened and I learned a valuable lesson. Look out for offers that are all flash, but nothing more than a cover up for someone else's shortcomings. 😉

    Reply
  • Paula May 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I was beginning to wonder if we'd see Devon among the guest bloggers, so I was glad to see her here this morning.

    Anyone who suggests "free exposure" is a form of fair compensation is either a snakeoil salesman or a con artist, but NOT good client material.

    I love your post, Devon, and would add one more thing to your section about how well-written materials connect consumers to businesses: Well written magazine and newspaper articles, fillers – even photo caps – draw both readers and advertisers. The better your content, the more readers you'll have. The more readers you have, the more advertisers want to be part of your publication, which means you can command a higher ad rate. (It's annoying how ad sales teams usually get the credit for luring advertisers when it's the writers and editors who create the best sales tool they have: great content.)

    Reply
  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Love this post, Devon. I once wrote that 'freelance does not mean free' – good work deserves good pay.

    Reply
  • ChuckB May 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    As a career sales guy and a neophyte writer who visits this blog specifically to learn the rules of the game, I have to say you're spot-on regarding getting to the people who know the worth of skillful folks.

    Now, as to what Paula has contributed, she's spot-on, too, because in my advertising sales training it's touted that the basis for successful ad sales has a direct relationship to the quality of the editorial content in the magazine, newspaper, blog, or whatever.

    Chuck

    Reply
  • Lori May 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Greetings from Alberta! Devon, thank you again for this arse-kicking post. Sometimes words like these can be more effective. 🙂

    Took me a few days to get Internet and thankfully it's terribly slow. I'm not tempted to check in or connect. 🙂 We're having a super time, and have seen wildlife beyond belief. Home in a week with tales!

    Reply
  • Anne Wayman May 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    A truth well said, Devon. Now if we can just get the masses or even half the masses to recognize this.

    Reply
  • Paula May 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Lori – you & my sister must be crossing paths without knowing it. She's been traipsing though Canada, too. Calgary, Banff, Kimberleigh, and now back in Alberta.

    Reply