Tuesday, 1 April 2014

You Need to Pay the Fecking Writer.

A local university is organising a big writing competition. They have a website featuring essays by various 'known' writers, in order to advertise their competition and, of course, their university. Their Project Coordinator writes to ask if I'll write an essay for their website. Fine, I reply. How much will you pay? Today he replies:

"We don't have the funds available to pay writers at the moment, but it is a small plug for the rest of your work."

Here's my reply:

"Ok, thanks for thinking of me - BUT: I'm not doing any work that isn't paid. I'm a full-time writer, trying to scrape by. Could you feed this back to everyone at your end at the university, please? I see you're Project Coordinator yourself, so you need to be aware of this.

You need to tell everyone involved in your project: it is quite out of order to ask writers to work for nothing. It's become a groan-inducing cliche amongst writers generally that unpaid work will be good for 'raising their profiles.'

This is something I've been stung by numerous times in the past, and have done a lot of work for nothing out of good will. I will only do so now for charities. As far as I know, Manchester Metropolitan University is not a charity. Far from it. Please do let your department and faculty members know that it is not a good idea to ask professional writers to work for nothing. It denigrates the profession and undermines those trying to make a living.

I'm sure your website / project is funded by the university. If they can't afford to buy content from professional writers then they need to ask amateurs to contribute instead.

Nothing against you, but I need to be firm about this.



  1. Exactly, Paul. Writers have bills to pay, the same as everyone else. It is disrespectful to ask for work, for nothing.

  2. Well said. Whenever I am asked to write in exchange for 'exposure', I explain that exposure is something that kills people on mountains. Money is more useful.

  3. Brilliant. Would love to read their reply if you ever get one.