Monday, November 16, 2009

I Am A Free-Lance Writer

Tell me what you want and pay me; I do it. It sounds as if it’s something like being a whore: pick me up on the street corner, tell me what you want, I give you a price.

Ok, here’s my going rate: $50 per delivered page, plus $50/hour to cover research, fact-checking, writing and proofing. I think that’s pretty reasonable for what you get. Let’s look at it this way, if you want to see the whole picture. A five-page piece costs you $250 delivered plus probably another $250 max for my work.

Writing is easy, if you want to turn out junk. It’s harder to turn out something the Reader’s Digest will print. But it’s really difficult to come up with something that will engross people, make them want to read the whole piece and, perhaps, either keep it around or give it to others because it’s so good.

I’d do junk for $50 flat, but that stuff is an insult; I’d do Reader’s Digest style for $150, but that’s still an insult. If you want to write, you need to take time. I told my writing students that even a note to the milkman should take two drafts, just to make sure it’s clear and precise, easy to read without more words than necessary.

Writing bumper stickers has got to be the most difficult writing assignment ever. I hope those people get paid well. The wisdom of the ages has to be written in as few words as possible, immediately recognizable, and witty. “Your kid may be an honor student, but you’re still an idiot.” I like that one. But “I (heart) NY” was a classic for the ages.


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