What is your time as a writer worth?
nuq ‘oH writer worth poH?
-Thank you Klingon translator…come on writer? Really, no Klingon writers?
Think about that before firing off an answer. When you have an answer, check your number against going rates for people in your area of writing expertise and in your region of the world. How did you do?
Worth is something every writer, thinking about making money, should be thinking about. Sure, nobody wants to talk about money, especially when seeking to get that foot in the door. Why? You did the work, you have bills to pay, you need and deserve compensation for the work you do. So while the convention, may to avoid talking about compensation, TALK about it. Wait for them to offer a number first if you like. Always a good negotiation tactic, but and I cannot stress this, have a top value and a bottom line number for yourself.
Shoot for the top, but go no lower than the bottom line. I can’t give you advice on how to get that top money other than the following common sense: Have your facts lined up. Do not go into a negotiation for your services without knowing the following:
- your value
- industry entry level pay rate
- industry top level pay
- background information about the people who you may be working with/for (yes, do some damn research before you start looking for a job-I can name ten game companies for writers to avoid off the top of my head because I did the research on how they treat and pay writers)
- what you want for compensation beyond money, such as benefits if it is a long term gig or a portion of the profits
- rights. Who owns your work? Who owns the intellectual property you may or may not create while on the job? These are important considerations for me and should be for most writers. If you are banging out little pieces here and there, I am fine with the payer owning them. However, if you create something new, who owns it and how much. Should you leave, do they get to keep the thing you created and run wild with it. Related to that, is your name going to be on everything you write, even after you are gone? What about revisions to your writing? How much control over your writing do you have?
So, you want to be a writer. How much is your time worth? How much are your words worth? You should know that. I do. However, my value is not your value. If you do not know how much your time and words are worth, how do you know when you are getting proper payment or giving it away?
How can you determine your value? This can be tricky, but here are some things to consider:
- Education, do you have a demonstrable education or degree in your field of writing
- Expertise, can you demonstrate through samples, and presentation of yourself and your work, that you are an expert
- Experience, how long have you been writing as a general concept, how long have you been writing about this particular area, have you been employed as a writer, and other measures of experience
A good way to demonstrate all of the above is to have a portfolio. A portfolio is a selection of your work that shows your range, expertise, and experience. Having a portfolio is more than having a collection of stuff. A portfolio is a well thought out process of selecting the best of your work. Each sample should quickly and easily demonstrate your skills as a writer and beyond. Writers, thanks to technology, are expected to be able to do more than just put word to paper. How are your layout skills? Giving any thought to color scheme, fonts, and pictures? If not, I have given you three things to think about. Because when push comes to shove, a writer who can do more than write is worth more than a writer who just writes.
Once again, what is your time worth and what skills do you bring to the table beyond writing?