Why I Won’t Write for $1 Per Page

I came across a topic in the Absolute Write forums under paying markets. The topic advertised an erotica book job, and a pay rate of $1 per page. The publisher was looking for a 60 page manuscript, and was willing to pay $60 for that.

Now, first off, I don’t write erotica, so the topic wasn’t of much interest to me. But when I read those rates, let’s say I got a little pissed off and I wanted to rant about it.

What it with people refusing to pay honest rates for writing? Sixty dollars for a sixty page manuscript? Does this person have any idea how long it takes to write a manuscript? A freelance writer, just like any professional, should expect to earn at least $25 an hour, at least. That means if you want to get that pay, for this particular job, you’d have to crack out 25 pages an hour. Now I know some impressive authors, but I doubt anyone can do that.

Further on, the topic doesn’t specify word count (what’s the word count for a 60 page manuscript anyway? I’m guessing it would be around 20k), font, or anything else. So if you want to be sneaky, you could double-space everything, and choose a large font. Although I’d doubt they’d accept that, the page guideline is quite vague. Personaly, I prefer rates per word, but to each their own.

But if you need to write 20k words to fill those 60 pages, and you can write an average of 1k per hour, then that would take about twenty hours. Twenty hours for $60. That’s working for roughly $3/an hour.

And if an author would get paid so little per page, and wanted to make a yearly income of $17000 (which would still be low), then they’d have to write 170000 pages a year. 170000 pages. The total number of pages in the entire Harry Potter series is 4224. So you’d have to write the entire Harry Potter series in one year, four times.

Now, the topic states that the publisher knows those rates are low, but that’s the budget. I wonder though, if their budget for an author is so low, why don’t they just offer royalites? And if they can’t pay the author more (who is, after all, the key person in the writing process) then what are they going to pay the editor, proofreader and designer, if they can even afford to hire them?

The $1 a page rate offends me. I know there’s probably no harm intended by this particular person, but once again, people underestimate the amount of effort it takes to write a book. Then we’re just supposed to give a 60-page manuscript away at the extremely low rate of $60?

Now if an author wants to take this deal, by all means. It’s your choice. But I won’t rate myself, or my writing, so low that I’d write a 60-page manuscript for just $60, and then give up all my rights to the story for that low, token amount.

The editorial freelancers association published their recommended rates on their website. They recommend charging $0.20-$0.25 per word for fiction writing, or $40-50 per hour. Value your writing, authors. Don’t just give your stories away for low token amounts. If you get tons of exposure, that might be a good idea, but if you don’t get any in return except a low payment, then don’t do it. You’re worth more – your writing is worth more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *