After my post on Writing as a Woman War Veteran was published, I got an invitation to write for a story call for veterans. For about a day, I was flattered and thinking it over.
But there was one sticking point.
They didn’t pay.
There are a lot of magazines and anthologies that don’t pay, except maybe copies. It’s actually hard to find ones that do pay professional rates. I used to write for many of the non-paying ones because I believed in the myth that you should build up your writing credits.
I also remember thumbing through the paper version of the Novel and Short Story Writers Market. They have statistics on how hard it is to get into each magazine, and obviously the pro-rate ones were harder. So I’d look at those statistics and pass on the pro-rate as being too hard.
It means I set the bar too low for myself and wrote accordingly. I stopped writing for anything calls that weren’t pro-rate several years ago for that reason and realized how much of a disservice I did to myself by not aspiring higher.
But then there’s the problem with all the veteran’s calls. First, I know that I am probably the only woman soldier writing anything. Sure, there are other women, but they’re usually spouses or relatives.
And not one of them has paid. They all expect the veteran to write for free. I’ve even seen calls where it’s obvious, the editors think they’re doing the veteran a favor because they’re letting them do writing as therapy.
The decision turned out to be both easy and hard. If I start my own business and the IRS audits me, they will see the writing for free submission. It’ll make them think I’m a hobbyist.
Veterans calls need to pay though. Seriously.