Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Retraction

Some time ago, I posted about my decision to bring a writing gig of mine to a halt after I learned something about this gig I hadn't been aware of at the beginning.

The thing that bothered me was how they wanted all rights to my articles. With pay being only at $5, I didn't feel such a request was justified since, after all, buying all rights meant I'd lose any other chance to earn payment by reselling that article somewhere else. I miss out on that extra income.

So for a while I decided not to pursue it. I didn't officially "quit." I just decided not to do it anymore and that was that. I secured another writing gig and thought things would work better from then on.

Unfortunately, this is not true.

With the new writing gig, you have to be a self-starter. You have to come up with things to write on your own, though some suggestions were made.

Also, the pay was very low. We're talking "pennies" low. And there's no guarantee of even earning any of those pennies, either, because they depend upon the work being viewed. (Ouch.)

And, finally, I didn't know exactly what direction I was supposed to take. Was I supposed to write for this section or that one?

I was stuck in this limbo for a while, not really sure of what I was doing or supposed to be doing. I kept getting e-mails saying I had to write something, but I wasn't sure of what they wanted!

I guess you could say I'd grown accustomed to being assigned articles to write. I just got so used to being told what to write. (Of course, I did have the option to decline a suggested article. And that has actually happened.)

After a certain period of time, I had to look at what I was doing with the new gig -- and NOT doing. I had to look at what I was earning -- and NOT earning.

And compare all of that to the old gig.

The old gig kept me working. Something that I liked. The old gig kept me exposed to learning new things. Something else that I liked. And, it kept paying. Something that I REALLY liked!

So I did some thinking on that. I had to ask myself, how far have I come since then? What exactly have I accomplished with this new gig?

The answer: Absolutely nothing!

Not good.

So I started to think about going back to the old gig. But before I agreed to hand over all rights to future wok, I had to feel confident about my association with that first. I Googled them like crazy. I even tried to Google the people involved. I dug around and did some checking.

First I wanted to know if they were reputable. If they had a good reputation. If people were bad-mouthing them, I wanted to know what was being said. If they were cheating writers or doing bad things to people, I wanted to read about it -- so I'd know to stay away. (Yes, editors, having a good character and respectability IS important to us writers!)

Then I wanted to know if there was anything sneaky being done with these articles. If TPTB were taking what they bought and reselling it all elsewhere to bring in big bucks. With my limited searching capabilities, I didn't see that happening.

Then something else happened. As I was searching around on the 'Net for all things related to the site and all things about the people associated with the site, I uncovered something. A newsletter reprinted online that had a link to one of the articles on that site. It looked familiar so I clicked on it. Sure enough, it was one of my articles! Awesome!

They had written about coin collecting in the newsletter and the writer said "look at this article to see how coin collecting can help your kids learn about history and geography." That's something I pointed out in my article. So I was very pleased that what I'd written was being passed on to other readers. Hey, this stuff can actually help more people, and not just readers of the site! Very cool.

I realized that even though I was giving up all rights, I was still doing something good for other people. I have received so many positive comments about my articles on there and I'm happy I was able to gather enough of my research together to put it all into an article that someone found useful.

So I have gone back to this gig. I am once again writing for them. I have pretty much accepted losing all rights to the articles, but that's okay. It's very rare that I try to sell reprints, anyway. In fact, that hardly ever happens! I'm always moving onto NEW stuff and trying to sell NEW material. The only time I try to sell reprints is if the site where my piece originally appeared is shut down and it's not on the Internet anymore. (I wonder what will happen if that happens with THIS site??)

Sure the pay is low given that I am giving up all rights, but it's good, reliable income and it doesn't take me too long to write the articles, anyway. And at least they're not being resold to other sites by the editorial team.

Additionally, now that I have gone back to doing this, I am reminded of how fun it is to learn new things. I enjoy this work and I am grateful for the challenge.

I have definitely realized that, sometimes, the rewards of what we write are greater than what we earn from writing them. Even if all we earn from that writing is just pennies, it's worth it if someone somewhere takes an article we've written and says, "Hey, look at this! This is helpful information!" Or, "Wow, what an inspiring story!"

I know that we writers are constantly encouraging each other to demand more money, equal pay, fair terms in our contracts and more flexible control over our work. There's nothing wrong with that. These steps are taken to protect us and guard against dirtbags who cheat writers. But when that's not the case, when it's not a situation in which there's a crummy or dishonest editor involved, then I think we should try to step back, take a look at the bigger picture, and ask ourselves what we want out of this arrangement the most.

If it means helping other people out there, inspiring readers or passing on helpful information that people could really use, then that's good enough for me.

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  • At 11:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    please share the wealth...what company is this? I need more income! You can email me if you dont want to say it on your blog.

    I'm currently looking at oDesk...do you know anything about them?

  • At 3:36 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    I have heard of some writers using and even reco'ing oDesk to find jobs. I've never used it; I've pretty much relied on WritersWeekly, Craigslist and Sun Oasis to find writing jobs. Other newsletters for writers list jobs, as well.

    As to the company...you've got mail. :)


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