Writing is hard.
Even a piece of flash fiction can take hours, or days. While I love writing, I also love eating and sleeping under a roof. Food and shelter cost money. Therefore, I expect to get paid for the work I do.
Will I work for free?
That depends. Will I write blog posts for friends to help promote their work? Absolutely. Will I create stories that will benefit a charitable cause? Affirmative. Will I participate in writer memes like Masturbation Monday and Wicked Wednesday? Hell damn yes, I will.
Will I write free stories for sex toy companies and/or online sex toy catalogs?
Nope. Never again.
Here is my sad tale of woe (and trust me, I only blame myself for this):
A few years ago, an online sex toy catalog (who will remain nameless) approached me with an idea. I would create stories for them to highlight their products, and in return they would offer me “extensive” free publicity. At first, I balked. But after some thought, and some lengthy dialogue with the proprietor, I agreed to their offer only if they guaranteed I would be their exclusive smut writer.
Around seven stories later, I noticed my work wasn’t getting posted. The proprietor apologized, and explained how he and his partner were swamped. Like the true dumbass that I am, I offered to post the stories for them.
Of course, they agreed.
A few weeks later, they offered me a larger role. If I would revamp their website and run their social media campaigns, I would get 50% of their profits. Again, I took the time to decide. It seemed like a no-brainer, I mean, I love a good graphic design challenge, so, in the end, I said yes.
Oh, Oleander, you brainless lump.
After I spent months not only redesigning every page, but also streamlining their catalogue to make it easier for customers to find what they were looking for, the proprietor and his partner decided they wanted out. The business wasn’t becoming the cash cow they’d hoped for fast enough, so they bailed.
But first, they offered to sell the company to me. Yes, sell. Even though they owed me thousands of dollars. *bashes forehead against laptop*
Why am I telling you all this?
The other day on the Twitter, I expressed my opinion regarding writing for free. And some folks did not like what I had to say. But, that’s okay, I’m used to having the unpopular opinion. Having said that, I would like to clarify a few things.
1. You have every right to write for free if you so desire and I will never judge you for that.
2. Some sex toy retailers are legit.
3. Any promotion is good promotion.
Giving away your writing for free can work to your advantage in some cases – but use caution. By giving away my stories, I sent a message to myself that my work was invalid. In short, I set myself up for a fall.
But Oleander, isn’t writing stories for memes kind of the same thing?
*shouts through megaphone*
When I participate in a meme, I am promoting myself and my website. Sure, some of the promo goes to the owner of the meme, (and rightly so), but when the reader clicks on that link, they arrive at my house.
Another advantage to participating in memes? You discover other writers to admire and commiserate with. Which leads me to my last point.
Oleander’s advice to new writers:
-Participate in memes. Hone your skills and get the feedback you crave. Here are a few I recommend:
-Follow other writers on social media, but not to sell books, to make friends. Trust me, you want writer friends. Writers are kick ass people, surround yourself with them.
-Find submission calls and enter your stories. Even if you only get paid $20 for a story, holy shit, you’re now a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!
-Your work matters, so don’t sell yourself short. Think before you give a commercial outlet free work.
In closing: I told my sad tale of woe to enlighten, not bash the company who screwed me over. Like I said, this was my fault. I made a bad decision. What I hope is that after reading this, you will make a better decision.
And get the cash up front.
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