Writers Worth: Giving it Away?

Still out convalescing.

Today is a real treat. Paula Hendrickson, whose post appeared here Monday, alerted me to the following article, written by C. Hope Clark. I contacted Hope and explained my plight — my ongoing plight to raise awareness one writer at a time. Hope graciously agreed to let us reprint her original article here. To Hope and all who are fighting the good fight to raise awareness, thank you.


by C.Hope Clark

I’m going to take a stance here that may rub some of y’all raw.
Quit giving away your work.

It’s an old mantra with me . . . one that FundsforWriters was founded upon. You cannot make a living giving yourself away. Doctors don’t give away their expertise. Lawyers charge for their services. So do teachers, plumbers . . . even hookers do it.

But you need exposure, you may say. No you don’t. Not that kind of exposure. Do you know what you look like when you pitch an editor or agent and the only items on your resume are:
1) Your serial novel on your blog;
2) Your articles on websites that do not pay;
3) Your poetry for free on your website;
4) Your free short stories on anyplace that will take them.

But you keep trying to sell your work and nobody buys it. So you figure you’ll post it online and somebody might discover it. Here’s the flaw in that logic.

The people hungry for your free work usually aren’t the type willing to pay. Think about it. They’re usually trolling for free work, and continually seek the good deal. They have no desire to pay full price
for a book or subscription, maybe not even one copy of a magazine where your work appears, because there’s ample free material available.

Editors and agents do not visit those freebie places. Not unless you happen to be that one in a million writer who trends on Twitter or manages to garner tens of thousands of readers. Not hundreds…thousands. Your odds are better pitching to editors.

If you are publishing for free because you keep getting rejected, then your writing might need work. People willing to pay for writing expect  to receive a good return for their investment, so your work has to be
refined and polished to rate their hard-earned dollar.

If you are publishing for free because you don’t want to learn the  ropes of how to submit to publishers and markets that pay, you might not be made of strong enough material to weather this business.

Argue with me. Go ahead. Then tell me how much money you’ve made from that “exposure.” I’m all ears. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. On the contrary. I want you to make a buck at this business. But too many writers think that giving their work away is “exposure” or a means to “getting discovered” when in
they usually end up sitting in place and waiting for nothing…and doing it for a long time.

It’s understandable you need to be proactive, but put that energy to good use in the right direction.

1) Improve your writing
2) Sell your work
3) Promote yourself.

You don’t want to appear so desperate you give it away. In all aspects of your life, how much quality do you attribute to something that was given to you for free?


C. Hope Clark is a freelance writing expert and author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Hope lives on the bank of Lake Murray near Chapin, SC, where she not only pens mysteries, but also manages FundsforWriters.com, a weekly newsletter service she founded that reaches 35,000+ writers to include university professors, professional journalists and published mystery authors. Writer’s Digest has recognized the site in its annual 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for a dozen years. She blogs at C. Hope Clark.

About the author




  • Cathy Miller May 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I've followed Hope since I started freelancing, and this is why. Bravo for a post that makes a lot of sense (or cents) 😉

  • Paula May 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Hope always has great insights for both fiction and non-fiction writers. I'm glad she let Lori reprint her column – just in case anyone here doesn't already follow her at Funds for Writers.

  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Great insights, Hope – love the way you unpick the thinking behind writing for free.

  • Lori May 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Hope, thank you again for letting me reprint this post. What great advice! I love your straight talk. Sometimes frankness, while it may not go down well, is exactly what's needed. A good swift kick in the butt hurts, but you learn not to sit down for a while, you know? 🙂

  • Hope Clark May 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for posting, Lori. This is a rant I'm near and dear to, that too few writers pay attention to.


  • Lori May 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Happy to have you rant here anytime, Hope. It's also my pet rant. 🙂