Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Do You Rate Payment For Your Writing?

My latest Chicken Soup for the Soul Book
Reboot Your Life

We have a couple new members in my online writing group. They've spent some time reading the bios of the others in the group. Both asked about writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul after they noted that several of us have been published by the anthology and saw a call for submissions in our monthly marketing list.

One wondered if it was worth it for payment of only $200 when you could command a much higher amount by selling to a national magazine or some other venue that pays more. The other asked if we who have written for the anthology thought it had advanced our career.

In mulling over their questions, I came to the conclusion that it all comes down to perspective. If you're trying to make a living as a freelance writer, then the $200 isn't going to go very far in your living expenses. Freelancers who must live on what they make need a faster turnover than Chicken Soup gives and more compensation.

For hobbyist writers, which I consider myself to be, that $200 is fine and the exposure I've gotten has helped me move along in my writing world. I'm not famous, nor will I ever be, but having had stories in 15 Chicken Soup books certainly hasn't hurt me as a writer.

This anthology sometimes receives submissions in the thousands for each book and only selects 101 stories, so making it is a real upper for the writer. It allows a writer to preen her feathers just a little when the announcement comes sailing through cyberspace into the Inbox of the email program.

As for the amount of payment, that $200 and 10 copies of the book are a lot more than most other anthologies pay writers. I've had payment of $100, $50, $25 and even one at $10. The next question might be Why do you bother submitting to those that pay so little? Every writer has to make that decision for her/himself. Ask yourself if the payment is your top priority. Or is it the addition to your publications list? Or is it achieving success with one of your stories? Is it being able to share your true-life stories as a help to others? Is it just plain personal satisfaction?

As for whether my work in Chicken Soup has advanced my career--I think it has given me some recogntion which, in turn, triggered this blog to help other writers. It's also given me some satisfaction but I'm not writing to put food on our table. I can be satisfied with these pluses whereas a person trying to earn a living as a writer might not.

Years ago, a new member in our writing group told us that she'd quit her fulltime job to pursue a fulltime writing career. She was a good writer in many ways but she also had a lot to learn about the finer points of writing. She knew next to nothing about choosing markets, the submission process and more. Needless to say, she became discouraged in a short time. She kept at it for a few more months, then quit writing completely and started a business of a completely different type. She would have made a good hobbyist writer, using what she made as a supplement to her other income.

So yes--it's what side of the fence you're standing on as to whether writing for a publication like Chicken Soup for the Soul is worthwhile. Or any other low-pay but high-exposure publication. Knowing what you want and what you can expect from your writing will help you decide.


  1. Great post. I think, especially for beginning writers who are just starting to get their work out there, it is naive to think that you can immediately leap into the higher paying markets. Sure there are some talented and lucky few who do, but it takes a lot of hard work to get accepted by those kinds of publications. Meanwhile, the more practice and exposure you get, the better writer you become. I haven't made a lot of money for my writing yet, but I have become a better writer $25 at a time.

    1. Lisa, I love your final sentence. It makes a great point. Thanks for your comment.