Pay the Writer

Harlan Ellison is about the most brilliant sci-fi writer and possibly the most offensive person in the United States outside politics. But he's always goddamned right. That's what makes him so offensive! He rants and rants and rants, and you have to say, against your will, goddamnit, he's absolutely right.My friend Jeff Carlson forwarded this rant from Ellison that's part of a movie about him: [youtube] It's pretty amazingly dead on. He's talking about fiction and non-fiction mainstream writing, but I've seen the same thing over and over again. I'm often asked to write for free. I recently did contribute an article to a non-profit and will probably write for them again as I have time because they have very no money to pay authors and their goals are, literally Worldchanging. They are the total exception. Ellison rants here about how, after being asked to have something of his (an interview) reused at no fee on a DVD they also wouldn't even send him the DVD. I had a piece in a large collection of New York Times articles that appeared as a book along with hundreds of other writers, staff and freelance. While I was notified about the article appearing, I was also told I'd receive no compensation and that I wouldn't receive a copy of the book. If they couldn't come up with a few thousand dollars to pay the raw cost of the book and shipping to at most 200 people (as the staff writers could get copies in house, and, by contract, were entitled to such, I believe), then the book was pointless in being produced: why produce something like that with such a skinty profit margin that you can't even send the writer a copy of the book? But that's how the journalism world and the publishing world works. It all runs on writers' words, but the producers of content all believe the creators of content aren't entitled to compensation relative to the return.