What is a published manuscript worth? As all writers know, it’s rarely easy creating good writing. Author, editor and poet Katerina Stoykova Klemer understood this all too well:
and so on.”
And so on, indeed. It’s one thing to produce a solid, concise, interesting piece of writing. Quite another to garner fair compensation when freelance writing is your bread and butter.
Imagine if we began referring to all written works as “manuscripts”. Would it change our perspective and boost our confidence as writers? Would publishers look at us differently if our email subject lines said something like: “Valuable Manuscript Attached!” or “Environmentally Conscious Scribe Submission Sans Papyrus” or “Do Not Open This Manuscript If You Do Not Respect Scribes.”
The word “manuscript” conjures up intellectualism, aesthetics, value and respect. Aren’t each of those components a given for artful writing? (Yes, writing is a form of art.)
Consider that Scribes were the intellectuals of Ancient Egypt, ranking high up alongside priests and educated dignitaries. These ancient people had great respect for Scribes because the written word was recognized as having great power. In essence, Scribes were the protectors and developers of the culture itself. Their contributions were central to academic research and the smooth running of the state and society at large.
Much of ancient writing was also incredibly beautiful and visually captivating (as any archaeologist, font fanatic or hieroglyphics expert can attest). Form followed function, yet while carved messages remain, complexities crumble into dusty shape-shifters as new editors pick and choose how to interpret their meaning.
A bit of interesting “scrib crib” research, as I like to call it: Scribes were “considered to be members of the royal court and as such did not have to pay tax, undertake military service or perform manual labour.” (Source: ancientegyptonline.co.uk)
WOW. Just let that sink in for a moment. Gather yourself and reflect upon the influence you possess. The multi-faceted power of words is still true today, of course!
In today’s world, a manuscript is defined as the work that an author submits to a publisher, editor or producer for publication within respective format guidelines.
It’s important to understand that your writing is a creative commodity that has a long history of intrinsic value. And POWER, lest we forget! This is particularly important to recognize if providing for your (and possibly also your dependents’) basic financial needs. Your self respect needs to be fed and protected, too. Demanding a fair wage for your sweat equity is only right. (Good thing sweating makes you smarter!)
Fellow bloggers/writers and those who respect us: $100 minimum for a modest size post of 250-500 words (which would typically take about an hour or so to compose) is fair compensation for a freelancer. Longer pieces should demand a comparatively higher rate.
If you are providing your own photos, video clips, graphic design elements, motion graphics, original source interviews, etc. then you can charge more for these value-added extras.
You should charge more still if adding promotion via your own social media channels. Your personally cultivated network of contacts brings additional value to the table. Businesses pay a lot of money for mailing lists. If your contacts are aligned demographically with your client’s target market, then your network is especially golden to them.
Keep in mind also that it takes additional time and know-how to put out strategic social media content. Each platform/channel has its own ever-changing protocols. Once you think you’ve unlocked “best practice” secrets the rules change. This is the nature of this often beastly arm of marketing. Keeping up with the fickle social media world and learning how to effectively integrate its monstrous potential is a valuable skill.
If you are an “expert” in a particular arena beyond general freelance writing/blogging, your rate should jump even higher. You’ve worked hard to gain expertise and likely have a lot of money and time invested in your education, training, and related experiences. This boosts your market value.
Every element you bring to the table is worth something. YOU are worth something. Own it! You do right by yourself and your profession by respecting your craft and not second guessing your value.
Stop giving it away. People who try to take advantage of you and your skills are not worth writing one word for. (At least not a word I can publish here.)
*Note: I love visual artists as much I love writers. In addition to being a freelancer, I also represent a variety of talented artists from around the world. My friend Jean Mirre from France painted ‘Manuscrit’ shown above. This and many other fine original works of art are available for purchase. See more of Jean Mirre’s work here: https://in.pinterest.com/jeandetjen/art-of-jean-mirre/. Please Follow me on Instagram to see the work of additional fine artists, random photography and more: https://www.instagram.com/jeandetjen/?hl=en. Thank you for looking!