The Price Ain’t Right: What You Said

ALCS News readers responded in their droves to last month's piece by Danuta Kean about writers being asked to work for nothing. Here is a small selection of your comments.

Via twitter

Amber Jane@AmberButchart: “People die of exposure. It doesn’t pay the mortgage” OR the rent.

Andrew Mueller ‏@andrew_mueller: Damn right. Writers, don’t write for free.

Jenny Diski@diski: @Danoosha is right. Authors doing gigs for free compound the problem. It wouldn’t be hard to change the situation. Exposure is worth little

Susie M @wrathofgod: useful response to the ‘sorry, no fee for writers’: ‘if my presence has no value to you, why invite me?’ @Danoosha

Laura Dron@LauraDron: The rules are quite simple. Just ask yourself if you’d get away with it with an electrician or plumber @Sophia_Moseley @ALCS_UK @Danoosha

Susie M: useful response to the ‘sorry, no fee for writers’: ‘if my presence has no value to you, why invite me?’

Susie M: useful response to the ‘sorry, no fee for writers’: ‘if my presence has no value to you, why invite me?’

Sophia Moseley ‏ @Sophia_Moseley: Quite @LauraDron @ALCS_UK @Danoosha I wld like to talk abt other aspects of topic eg bloggers & citizen journalists and impact that has.

Richard Crowhurst ‏@richard_freelan: Love this from @Danoosha at @ALCS_UK. Remember first time I refused to sign a contract! Scary, but glad I did it

@danbarker honest question: how much were you paid for that article? (feel free not to answer) @Danoosha

Josa Young ‏ It’s like a power station saying ‘Sorry, we don’t have a budget for gas’. @polblonde @Danoosha

One of the many twitter conversations

Emily Mathieson @emilymtraveled: Thought-provoking piece. I’d be over budget if I paid standard fee for all contribs each wk but.. …still surprised by how many writers beg me to let them write for free… @Danoosha @atkinsondavid

Danuta Kean @Danoosha: Me too. But it’s a law of diminishing returns and will and is undermining the quality of what is out there.

David Atkinson @atkinsondavid: I’m amazed too. People writing for a living just can’t live like that. Appreciate budgets tight but free = wrong

Emily Mathieson @emilymtraveled Completely agree & for what it’s worth most editors will respect a writer who knows their value…

David Atkinson@atkinsondavid Hard to say no sometimes but I do feel we have to stand up against no fee policy

David Atkinson@atkinsondavid I’m sure they do & take comfort in that. Many eds squeezed too so I have sympathy.


By email

You make many excellent points in your ALCS article. I want to note the case of scientists who contribute to multi-author textbooks (I have edited 6, am finishing my 7th and planning my 8th and 9th). When I first contributed to such books and for my first editing foray, chapter authors were paid a royalty based on sales. For a successful book this could mount up, also it gave an unpaid sales force to the Publisher. Now there is a flat £100 ($150) rate (which is insulting) and bland assurances that it is “the industry standard”, also that we do not do it for money (huh?) but for career development (false, we are disparaged for wasting time on this instead of publishing “research” – much of it rubbish; I write as an experienced peer reviewer) and love of our work.
Brian Wood

Thanks for this article. Good read. In my experience, the worst people for not paying are TV companies. They think that everyone is hypnotised by the prospect of being on the small screen. I have special knowledge of UK smuggling, and researchers from TV production companies ring me about 6 times a year to pick my brains. I now just ask “what’s in it for me?” which tends to make them pause for breath.
Richard Platt

I loved your article on the ALCS website. As a freelancer, it really rang true.

And on the subject … see this.

All the best,


The ALCS Board on twitter

Joan Smith@polblonde: When festival organisers say ‘we don’t have a budget for speakers’, I wonder why THEY are being paid. Great piece. @Danoosha

James McConnachie @j_mcconnachie‏: I feel the same about TV researchers wanting time for free, @polblonde @Danoosha. Try telling a solicitor you ‘only want 1/2hr on the phone’

@polblonde: Or telling Sainsbury’s you’d like your shopping for nothing. @j_mcconnachie @Danoosha

@j_mcconnachie  Or like the government allowing libraries to lend e-books for free without compensating authors! Oh… @polblonde @Danoosha

Thank you to everybody who was kind enough to let us share their comments. To comment further, tweet or facebook us, or alternatively you can email us.