I think I'm more of a workhorse than a thoroughbred when it comes to writing. I'll write most anything for most anyone who asks . . . even if there is no pay. This, however, has not been my experience with most other writers.
Recently I began working as an editor for an upcoming book to be published in 2010, and helping to produce a book on this other end of the spectrum has been most illuminating. I've learned, for example, that most writers simply will not write for small amounts of money. Most want top billing or nothing. And hardly anyone will write for free. Many other writers have told me, "I don't have time to write
In the past month I've been asked to contribute ideas to two publishing web sites, to contribute to an upcoming periodical, and to write copy for a mailing that another publisher wants to send as a mass mailing . . . all for free. I never hesitate a single moment, but agreed to do all of these for nothing. Maybe I'm a chump, but my experience is that these gifts always lead to other opportunities, and I often work well into the night if I have to give an editor these gifts.
Like John Updike, who, even until his death earlier this year contributed book reviews and frequently wrote for little or no pay, I'm in that camp of the workhorse writer, the Great Depression writer, the I'll-d0-it-for-free-cause-its-what-I-do camp.
I guess I can't figure out the writers who decline opportunities because they are too busy or can't work for peanuts.
And so, if there are other editors out there who need a workhorse instead of thoroughbred . . . I'm already locked and loaded in the starting gate.