Working for free


Richard Sterling, editor of Travelers’ Tales Food, and The Adventure of Foodamong others, and author of many Lonely Planet World Food Guides, including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Spain, and Greece, asked me to write a personal story for his upcoming LP World Food Guide to California.

He isn’t offering any payment, and I’m going to have to have to push hard for reimbursement of my expenses, but it raises the question, how much work should a writer do for free in the efforts of name building?

From previous writing classes I’ve taken, teachers have said, don’t write for free. And I’ve heard it on newsletters (my favorite is WritersWeekly.com) for writers as well. But I also know that sometimes, it can be the foot in the door that leads you to other things—be they higher paying assignments, or even literary awards.

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For this particular assignment, I’m going to check with RS to see if I can sell him non-exclusive rights, instead of first serial. Truth is, I wrote a story for his Hong Kong guide, and I don’t remember what the stipulations were, but now that I’m getting serious about my writing, every story should have it’s own file along with magazines and newspapers it’s been sent to, as well as publications its been sold to and the contracts that go with them.

Good luck with your own submissions, report back here and let us know where the paying markets are.