Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Suite it is?

Yesterday, I made a decision: A current writing gig is just not going to work out for me anymore. What prompted this decision? I only now received their contract (after months of writing for them) and it states that they are buying all rights to my articles.

Yep, you read that correctly: ALL RIGHTS. Which means they can reprint the articles anywhere else on the Web and I wouldn't see a dime in reprint sales. And forget about selling the articles as a reprint; I wouldn't have any more rights to them.

Selling all rights to your writing is something which some writers accept, in some cases. For example, if the pay sufficient, then they accept surrendering all rights. And, for some, they figure there is no chance they will reuse anything in that article, anyway, and they don't want to try to sell it as a reprint. So, they surrender all rights.

To read more about what it REALLY means to sell all rights to your writing, go here:
Selling All Rights: Right or Wrong?

In my case, I did not feel it was fair to surrender all rights to my articles, because they are only paying me $5 for each one. If the pay was a little higher, I would accept this. But at $5? That's highway robbery!

Or, should I say, superhighway robbery, since this is on the Internet.

I wrestled with this for a while. I tried to accept these terms, but it just REALLY seemed like a lousy deal. It just was not a fair sale. Every time I even tried to keep working for them, my instincts cried STOP! I just did not feel like I was respecting myself as a writer, and my work in general, if I continued to work under these terms.

I have pretty much accepted the fact that the articles I have sold to them so far are gone forever. I guess all this time, they were being bought under those terms outlined in the contract (which I actually have yet to sign). At the time I took this gig, these terms were not outlined on their site or in emails. I naively assumed they were buying nonexclusive rights, First Electronic Rights or exclusive rights that would expire after a period of time. But now I know that was never the case.

Now I have decided that I will no longer work for them under those terms.

So last night, I got on the 'Net to try and find a new writing gig. I visited a job site for writers and there were a couple of jobs with requirements I felt I could meet. I sent them emails asking for more info, ensuring that my resume is ready for their review, and hit another job site. After some clicking, I came across an ad saying that Suite101.com was looking for writers. I know of some writers who have written for Suite101.com, and I figured, if they are writing for this site, then it must be a legitimate writing gig worth their time. The ad said the pay was $39.50 per article.

Hey, that's better than $5, I thought.

So I went to their site, filled out the application and sent along with that two sample pieces of my writing that matched the topics I wanted to write for and met their word count limit.

This morning, I got an e-mail saying that my application was approved. Hooray! I was now a Suite101.com writer!

I went to the site to read the contract and noted it didn't say anything about the pay rate. I was satisfied with the rights they wanted for articles, but there was no figure concerning pay.

Uh-oh. Not a good sign.

So I hit Google and did some checking around. I noted on some blog posts about writing for Suite101.com that a lot of the complaints concerning pay were outdated. I looked for information that was current and found out that they pay their writers by ad revenue. Meaning that every reader who clicked on an ad that's on the same page as the article would help the writer earn some income. I was not happy to see that this payout was low (something like $1.50 for every ONE THOUSAND clicks -- ugh!!), and even more disheartened when one writer said she only earned 26 cents her first month as a Suite101.com writer.

Twenty-six cents?? Sheesh! I might as well go back to writing for $5 per sale! Good grief!

I also came across one writer saying she earned just $3.90 for every 1,000 page views of her article. Ugh!

I did some more checking around and my hopes started to rise. There ARE writers out there who have managed to earn a decent monthly income writing for Suite101.com. In fact, they even continue to earn income years after their articles are published and even after they stop writing for that site.

Phew! I was glad to hear that.

I later received a memo from the site's EIC stating they are actually upgrading their pay model for writers. Now writers will receive revenue based on page views, and not just clicks on ads. Yay! That was good news.

So I'll be going through their training soonish and hopefully this new writing gig will be something bigger and better for me. I would love to move past writing for the Internet and instead write for magazines, but until I can make that a reality, I will settle for writing for the Web. And a newspaper, as well; pretty soon I'll be receiving my next assignments for SIGNews and I'm excited to move forward with that, too.

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  • At 4:05 PM , Blogger Tara McClendon said...

    I'm writing for Suite101, and so far it's about what I expected. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on selling rights, and good luck with your new venture.

  • At 6:06 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thank you. :)

  • At 11:53 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    First, congratulations on taking that daring step away from a situation that didn't feel quite right. That's hard for a lot of writers, including me!

    Next, congratulations on your new gig! I've been writing for Suite101.com: Mixed Media Arts for ten years, and am on my third topic. This was my first gig and I've found that you get out of it what you put in. :-) So, if you're good at getting your article's links out there, you'll help your clicks. You have to be good at SEO, too. There's a lot of information about all that in the manuals, though, which are all linked in "my suite."

    Good luck!! xo

  • At 5:31 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thank you, Jen. :)

    It was hard for me to make this decision, because I've been with them for months and the editors have always been kind and they paid promptly. However, as I said, those terms are unfai and I refuse to continue writing for them if I have to give them all rights. I know I can negotiate this with them, and I WILL try to do that, but I feel bad if other writers have just accepted these terms and signed away the rights to their writing for so little compensation.

    Wow, 10 years with Suite101! That's amazing. Good on ya for holding that position for so long! I have read a lot more positive things about writing for them than the negative things, so it really must be a realistic side gig for writers.

    Thanks for the feedback! I just might email you if I need any more guidance or tips. ;)

  • At 9:00 PM , Blogger The Florist said...

    After reading your adventures as a freelance writer, I think I might need to reconsider my own writing ambitions. I'll stick to laundry, making peanut butter & jellies, and carpool--thank you very much. Good luck with your illustrious career!

  • At 11:04 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thank you. :) The life of a freelance writer definitely is not for everyone. There are different kinds of writing fields that a writer is better suited for. I guess it's just a matter of finding the right one. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with writing for the love of it. :)

  • At 12:03 PM , Blogger The Lili Effect said...

    Hi Dawn,

    Saw your post on Laurie P-K's Quips and Tips - I hope you can see that the benefits far outweigh the trickly pay that starts off at S101. :)

    I started there 2+ years ago, and have written for absurdly low-paying topics, but it didn't stop me from switching from a techie job to an SEO marketing job based solely on my S101 portfolio and experience.

    I suggest you use the article you drafted for the application as your first article, then yep - anything goes! :D

    Good luck! And look forward to seeing you in the forums!

  • At 4:31 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thank you so much for that information! I obviously have not done anything with S101 since this post but I will see if they are still willing to take anything from me. I have too many articles but no homes for them! :( So maybe S101 can be helpful to my writing in that capacity.


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