Not writing for free

There still is a persistent attitude that writers should not be paid for their time and effort.   That somehow, we should be apologetic for even writing—and I see this even on the indie book covers, where the writers put their names in teeny-tiny letters, like they’re whispering, “I wrote this.”

From the New York Times:

“Maybe what’s behind the inequity isn’t just a lack of opportunity, but a lack of confidence, an inability among women, or just me, to step up and say My work matters, and to really, truly believe it.”

Not only does the work matter, our time does, too.  We wouldn’t tell a metal worker he should make fences for free.  We wouldn’t tell a wood carver he has to make his chairs for free.  Yet, writers are told all the time that they should write for free.

And too many of us believe it.

Non-paying it is not worth what it costs.  To our confidence, to our writing quality, to ourselves.

Cover for Rogue God, showing a tiki face on a surfboard.

“Anton Keymas is part of a magical Special Forces, the Vai, and blessed by a party goddess.  His mission?  Hunt monsters that no one believes in any more and try not to get killed.

“But this new monster has killed two soldiers.  Now that it’s gotten a taste of human flesh, it will be back for more.

“Keymas has little time to stop a monster that is intelligent and cunning.  He may have to do the one thing he has refused to do, and even that has a cost, especially when gods get involved.

3 thoughts on “Not writing for free

  1. and I see this even on the indie book covers, where the writers put their names in teeny-tiny letters, like they’re whispering, “I wrote this.”

    Huh? If you’re a major author, you can attract readers to your book simply by name recognition. Thus, putting you name really big on the cover makes a lot of sense. As an indie, nobody knows who I am. The cover is the most valuable real estate on my book’s page. The title, assuming it properly conveys genre and story in conjunction with the cover images, sells books. Thus, the title is given prominent position.

    It’s not about not valuing our work. It’s about being smart businesspeople.


    1. Actually it’s about valuing your work and being a smart business person. A cover should look like you could find it in a bookstore on the shelf and should look like a traditional publisher published it. All the covers I see in the bookstore have the author’s name in much bigger letters than most indie authors do, even for the first time writer than doesn’t have any name recognition.


      1. That’s just not what I’m seeing in my genre. The big names (pun intended) have their names in huge letters. George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King … All those are generally much bigger than the titles. For lessor known Big 5 published authors, the names are much smaller compared to the book title.

        IMO, your position doesn’t make a lot of sense. The cover is selling the book. The part that sells the book best should get top billing. For a no name writer, the name does nothing to sell it. Once you’ve gained a readership, people will find you. Until then, your name is meaningless …


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