Writing for free: Are writers being taken for a ride?


A recent blog discussion I read about writing for free vs paid writing got me thinking about the subject. One side was against, one side was for.

During this discussion it was brought up that writing for free de-values the trade of writing in general regardless of your format. I personally write for free not only because I enjoy it but because I like to connect with like minded people, I want to gain exposure for my writing and I feel every word I publish or communicate to another will improve my ability to write overall. The short stories I have written, that have published are a way for me to do much the same as well as entertain people. I am a very small fish in an enormous pond and only through writing, publishing and continually communicating with the written word I feel I am attempting to progress as a writer (or up a strange fish hierarchy).

Online environments have been a great source of encouragement and growth for writers especially new or relatively new people to the trade. It’s a way to critique and judge whether your writing is in fact, good enough to take the next level. The next level may be self publishing, traditional publishing, journalism or where ever you choose to take ir, there’s a plethora of possibilities. The crux of the matter is that online environments are mainly, not all but mainly unpaid labour. Some commentators have pointed the finger at the Huffington post for instance, saying they take advantage of writers through not paying them. I would love to have the exposure from having my writing published in something possibly millions of people will see.

The other side of the coin is that if every writer writes for free then it values writing as a big fat ZERO. This is true to a certain extent. If all novels were free, well why pay out of the kindness of your heart. People have said this about platforms like Wattpad. I think the same argument can be made, it’s a launch pad for new writers, it’s exposure, it’s a testing ground for new material as some well known writers have used them for.


It’s easy to see both sides but for someone who is at the very beginning of a potential writing career I enjoy writing for free. It would be great to be paid for it and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t say no, but until there comes a time when I can justify a fee for my work, it’ll all be pro bono (o;


What do other’s think? Do you think writing for free de-values the trade? When do you think a writer should start asking money for their work?


  1. In all honesty, I have no qualms about being published for free. Though, since I am a new writer, I am deathly afraid of giving away my stories, period. I don’t know why; maybe it’s the idea of losing something I worked on for months, or something of that ilk. But, in regards to publishing for free, if I get exposure, I’m happy.


    • Yep, exposure is a positive and you’re right about the stories. Sometimes its hard to place them in someone else’s hands but I’ve been lucky in that regards. My stories have been given a good home


    • I can definitely relate to this. Some of my short fiction takes months to prepare, and though I’m perfectly happy to get it published without payment, sometimes it feels like I’m throwing it to the wind.
      But it’s a valuable step to take. Exposure is key. I can worry about money when I have a body of work to build on.


  2. I agree. It’s easy to see both sides. I can understand why someone would want to be paid for their work. If a potential publisher takes interest into someone’s work it only makes sense that the person wants to be compensated for their intellectual property.

    However, at the same time, if you’re a new fish in the pond it may be great to write for free. That way you get exposure. Persistence is key I suppose.

    I’m not an expert on the subject (to be honest this the first time I ran across the topic) but I can see the pros and cons for both sides.


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