Deadly Ever After

Why You Should Pay For Art

Today’s Brew: Powerade.  I only drank it to be polite. But it was blue.  I am a sucker for a blue drink.

by Kristen

When we pursue an artistic endeavor with the hopes of getting paid, we face a catch 22.  We need experience to get hired. We can’t get hired because we don’t have any experience.  Most artists are independent contractors, especially when starting out.  We rely on word of mouth for people to buy our creations or hire us.  So how the heck does anyone make money doing art?

I’m noticing a similar trend in writing and publishing as I am in my “day job,” makeup artistry.  When I started out as a makeup artist, I did projects for credit.  Basically, I worked for free and for the privilege of being able to say I did it.  I did a few things to get my resume going and to build my portfolio. It was how I got my name out there at first, a form of advertising.  I considered it an internship.  A lot of people didn’t understand the process, and it was frustrating.

“When are you going to get paid for this?”  I was so sick of the question. And almost ashamed.  Here I went to school to do this and I was trekking all around the state not getting paid.  I left a decent job to start over. But once I had the experience under my belt, I was able to get paid for my artistry.

Many people will try to get something for free when they should be paying.  Jobs that have no value besides getting paid for them.  Advertising projects, especially.  If someone is making money from your work, you should be, too. Other artists don’t know their worth. They under charge for their services.  They undercut themselves as well as other artists.  They bring down rates, because someone is willing to do the job for half or a quarter as much as another artist. And they build a ceiling for themselves.  If they knew what they were worth, they could get paid for it! Or it’s just a fun hobby for them, so they don’t care to ask what they should for the job.  You know what hobby I think is fun?  Paying my rent!   Sadly, some artists shoot themselves in the foot by trying to charge for their work before they are ready.  They leave a bad impression and they don’t get hired again.

Now that I’m trying to find my way in the publishing world, I’m seeing the same patterns unfold.  Sure, Julie and I love writing short stories for this blog.  This is our advertising.  But our end goal is to sell books.  I’m seeing other artists give away books for free or a ridiculously low price because either they don’t have the confidence to charge what their work is worth or they put it out too early and it’s not a polished product.  Or it’s just a gimmick to get more downloads.   What does this do for other authors?  It makes selling their books harder.  People either don’t see the value in a good book, or they are gun shy from buying bad books.

If you’re self publishing, please make sure you are putting out a polished product and don’t be ashamed to be asked to be paid for your work!  Sure, you might not get as many downloads at first, but build a solid word of mouth base. Do it right.  Go big or go home.  As I move along the publishing process, there are so many more steps to trying to get a book published than I ever could have imagined.  Self publishing is not a reason to skip any of them.  I address this to the self publishers because they can control their pricing and publishing process, not because I believe they are creating a lesser product.  Be proud of your accomplishment.  You published a friggin’ book.  Now, ask people to pay what it’s worth.  Your blood, sweat, and tears is worth more than ninety nine cents.

I get it.  The harder I work at this, the more I want it. Trying to get a book published is one of the most frustrating projects I’ve ever attempted. But I believe it will be one of the most rewarding. We’re desperate to get our names out there, to be known.  To get exposure.  But remember the other meaning of exposure.  Don’t leave yourself naked in the cold at the expense of your talent and your bank account.


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5 thoughts on “Why You Should Pay For Art

  1. This is so true. I’ve given my short stories away for free, hoping that it would bring me some new fans, there are only a few sites that has brought me the desired ending. One magazine promised me the sun and moon and only gave me a black sky.

  2. Yes. This.

    I got this today, after bowing out of a project I got lowballed on. Got to appreciate her honesty though:

    “I was wondering if you were still available for the April 12-14 shoot for your full rate? After trying to find someone for a lower cost I couldn’t find someone as good as you and would love for you to come on if you’re still available. Let me know!”

    • Good for you! When I first put my book on Smashwords, I sent out some e-mails with a free promo code. If the recipient didn’t redeem it before the code expired, they missed their chance at a freebie.

  3. ElisaQueens on said:

    I cannot count how many people I have worked for free. Of course I do it for publicity but *I* choose the publicity bit and how I *will* benefit from it. I have people calling me saying *well you DID offer to do it at no charge!* sad people that throw it in your face. I only thought family was that pathetic. Choose your charity! Make it worth your while.

  4. I’ve done plenty of freebies too. But if it’s not going to help me grow, I don’t do it anymore. I find that offering free or low charge services only attracts people wanting more of the same.


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