brni (brni) wrote,

A little bit about paying authors

Once upon a time it was possible for reasonably well-established writers to make a reasonable living on the proceeds of their writing. Even with short stories. Not so much anymore. $0.05 per word - the current "professional rate" - will net you $200 for a story of 4000 words, a story which likely took weeks to write and polish, and that then took another year to sell. Of course, the vast majority of markets - including The Journal of Unlikely Entomology - don't pay that. We pay $0.01 per word, which puts us solidly in the middle of the pack.

One of the things that bothers me as a writer is that not only are you grossly underpaid, but when your story is accepted for publication by a paying market, it actually ends up costing you money to get paid. "Print 2 copies of the contract and send them to us, and then we'll pay you via paypal on publication." When you're getting $10 for a story, have to pay $.50 for postage, and then have paypal suck out $.30 + 2.9% from your $10? Well, you just lost 10% of your pay.

When we started the bugzine, there were two things that we wanted to do, from a business perspective. First was that we would always pay our contributors. As we have no revenue stream, that's basically out of my pocket, plus a handful of voluntary donations (and a very big thanks to all of you). Still, we either pay our contributors or we get out of the business. The second was that to the ability in my control, we don't want our contributors incurring costs just to be paid. So for all domestic payments, the contributor has a choice between paypal or check, so it's on the contributor as to whether to choose instant gratification or a trip to the bank. We also reimburse the reasonable postage our contributors incurred mailing us the contract. International payments get far more complex without paypal, so there's not much choice there, but we do cover the foreign transaction fees.

It's not big money, and it isn't going to make the writer or artist rich or anything, but it's the principle of the thing. Anyway, that's what we do, and why.


I haven't posted writing word counts the last few days as I've been caught up in getting the Valentine's Day issue up (which, really, you should be reading, instead of this.) And honestly, I don't know what my word count has been each of those days. I even managed to write in two different versions of the file, and had to synchronize to a single authoritative version.

Anyway, in the last 3 days, I've written 2523 words on the pirate novel (bringing me up to over 16k words), found the end of Act I and the beginning of Act II, and gotten nowhere with Xen. I also did a final look-through of The Red Danube and sent that in to Innsmouth Free Press's Fungi anthology (starting the rejection countdown now...).


Excerpt from the pirate story:

Everything happened so quickly then.

"Aw Christ, Jenny," Carline said, starting to rise to her feet, then sinking back down, dizzy.

The stretcher bearers ran out, back into the fray, leaving only the pirate supporting the piece of wood that jutted from Jenny's abdomen, keeping it steady.

The unconscious man groaned and tried to raise his head. Gary rushed to his side to tell him not to move his head.

The explosion preceeded the roar, and for a time there was only light, and the things that slashed as shadows through the light.
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