Monday, May 07, 2018

On Writing 4: Writers should expect to get paid

In a diary entry for the 22nd of June, 1989, I noted: 
Yesterday I received $25 in the post from The Mouthpiece magazine ˗ it's about eleven months since I last wrote to them, and received a favourable reply, and a cheque in answer to my cheeky request. I'd read in the 1987 Writers' Yearbook that a cheeky writer had requested money for his work from a magazine that supposedly never paid, and had received a cheque. So I thought it was good enough for me too!
In today's money $25 is about $60, so this wasn't too bad a fee for a spec piece of writing. Furthermore, the editor had told me when I first sent them a piece that they 'didn't pay writers.' Yet, with a bit of cheek, I managed to receive payment each time I wrote for this non-profit magazine. 
The Mornington Brass Band which became the
St Kilda Brass Band in 1912.
(I've played for its soloists on a number of occasions)
The Mouthpiece was produced for brass band players in New Zealand. I should say 'is produced' since a quick look online shows that there are editions dated 2018. 
This is a prime example of the way in which a fledgling writer can get published, and get paid for it. I'd had enough experience with brass bands - as an accompanist to soloists competing in the brass band competitions - to be able to put together a few humorous articles, all of which were accepted over a period of two or three years. 
There's another lesson here: editors of small magazines that have a limited audience are always on the lookout for good material. Why? Because most writers who are earning bigger money don't need the few bucks that a little magazine can offer, and so don't write for them. Plus they don't get a lot of kudos writing for a magazine that focuses on a limited market. 
And equally, a lot of writers start out think they should only aim for the big magazines. Which will prove disheartening, because there are already plenty of writers working for them.
Small magazines are good for newbies, and also for those who can quickly turn their hands to a one-off piece. (Which of course you may be able to revamp for some other outlet.)


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