As a creative writer, I am used to writing for free. While it’s wonderful to get a poem or essay occasionally published in a literary journal, the majority of journals don’t pay. Now, on the one hand, I don’t mind that because I don’t JUST write to get paid, I write because I love to write and I believe that art influences humanity. Anytime I can share a piece of writing and find out that it resonates with someone means that I was able to use my art to connect with another human being, and that’s what art is meant to do. But on the other hand, writing does take time and effort, and I would love to get paid for that time and effort.
In addition, it feels like the only people who read creative work are the people who read literary journals, which are usually other writers/poets. Now, the writing community is a beautiful one and don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the support, creativity, and beauty of the writers/poets tribe. But I want to write for everybody, not just for writers, you know?
In 2018, I published zero poems, zero essays, zero anything. I also didn’t really write. I didn’t write a new poem at all I don’t think. I worked on my novel with my agent to get it ready for submission, and then I worked a little on a new novel, but mostly I didn’t write much. Honestly, I was tired of the whole process: the rejections, of the search for new literary mags to submit to, the search for chapbook contests, of the fees for chapbook contests, and then, more rejections. I’ve grown weary of the necessary publishing life of the creative writer: one of risk, low readership, and no money.
I read a great article in Catapult Magazine called “Don’t Submit. Pitch.” Here’s a quote:
” A submission says please pick me, I’ll be waiting. A pitch says catch me or you’ll miss the ball. A submission is passive; a pitch, active.”
It really spoke to me and got me thinking about how I can pitch more. I want to write for money, even if it’s a small amount of money. I want to earn a wage for my time and my work. I want a greater readership than that of literary magazines, especially print lit mags.
I browsed some freelance writing job boards, but I didn’t see anything that interested me. Considering that I already have a full-time job, I don’t need or want to take on freelance projects that I’m not passionate about. So I began to think about what I WOULD like to write about and what I am capable of writing about, and I came up with three things: Books, Education, and Writing.
Then I searched for online publications related to books, education, and writing that pay contributors. And I started pitching. Not submitting, pitching! It felt amazing. I gave myself permission to be ambitious, to aim high, to claim my expertise, to believe in my skills. It honestly felt different from submitting poems to a literary journal. Instead of thinking, well, I hope they pick mine over all their other submissions, I felt like I was saying, I have something important and interesting to say that fits with your niche, and I’m an effective writer that you want on your team.
My first pitch was to Book Riot, and had to submit two writing samples that could be blog posts for the site. I got it! I will now be a contributor to Book Riot, which means I get to write about books! I love to read and discuss books, so it’s a perfect fit for me! I’ve also pitched one education blog and am preparing a pitch for another education magazine.
So here’s to new and ambitious adventures in writing!
Congrats on a new direction and getting paid!!!!
“I want to earn a wage for my time and my work.” I hear you, Karissa! After being a stay-home mom by a combination of choice and necessity for 20+ years, I was just beginning to earn money for providing eldercare and nanny services. I was also beginning to consider the “what’s next” of empty-nesting and starting to polish up my resume and look into finishing college. Then my mom received a dementia diagnosis, my dad’s physical health and judgement declined significantly and my parents began to need many hours of help from me each week. Apparently my new job (did I choose this??!) is now care-giving for free. And while I actually like taking care of people and love my parents, it hurts my feelings to do this much work without compensation, when people outside my family found me valuable enough to pay me. After all, we generally pay for goods and services we value. I remind myself that there are multiple bottom lines, but tell that to the Social Security Administration when it’s time to receive benefits! Hope there is a pay-off for you in 2019.