As-salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you), Dear Readers...

NEW for September 18, 2016:

This blog has MOVED to the Muslim Writers Club, a new website dedicated to all of your writing needs.

Here are some of the pages you will find on the new site:

Jobs and Internships for Muslim Writers – Check out the latest opportunities.

Freelance Markets for Muslim Writers – A list of magazines, newspapers, and websites that want to work with YOU, insha'Allah. Includes many paying markets.

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Writing Activities for Muslim Children – Coming Soon!

Q&A Page - Get your questions about the art (and business) of writing answered.

Articles and Other Resources – Even more resources for Muslim writers.

Hope to see you at the new site, Insha'Allah!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Q&A: Feeling Shy to Negotiate

Question: I read your response below about the importance of negotiation. You are right that these things should be settled before submitting any work. But, when one is somewhat still in the beginning stages in their writing path, then it seems one is being presumptuous or over confident to be talking money before even knowing if your work will be accepted. What do you think?

~ A Sister in Islam

Answer: We were all beginners at one point, and I know what it is like to feel shy or hesitant about asking for money. Like many writers, I got into writing because I love the craft, and I did not initially realize the importance of having good business skills on the side.

Whether we like it or not, writing for publication is essentially a business. When magazines decide to purchase an article, they are buying a product that you took the time to craft, the same as if you were selling hand-made clothing, jewlery, or other goods. When it costs you $8 for the materials to make a hand-crafted necklace, you do not go and sell it for $3, $5, or even $8. You take into consideration your time and effort, as well as the expenses of advertising your product, participating in trade fairs, gas for your car, etc., not to mention the uniqueness of your product. In the end, the necklace might actually cost you $30 to make, but you end up charging people $50 (or whatever price you determine is reasonable) to buy it. At this point, the customer is not going to care if this is the first necklace you ever made, so long as you have produced a quality product.

While most people can understand the above example, writers are notorious for undervaluing their work. They are emotionally attached to their words and the idea of being published and buy into the idea that it's not right to ask for money. Meanwhile, everyone else working on the magazine, from the printer to the graphic designer, is getting paid a living wage.

If you are writing because you hope to make a living at it, you should have confidence in your work and agree on all issues of importance before allowing a magazine to publish your articles. As the managing editor of Our Rising Star Magazine, I have worked with numerous writers, and I can tell you that no one looks down on a writer who treats her writing as a business.

Some people will try to shame you into writing for free because you are a "beginner." Do not fall into this trap. If you want to write for free (or at reduced rates), do it because you think the publication is worth it. For example, it is a known fact that some/many Muslim magazines do not have the budget to pay their staff a living wage. Sometimes the editors themselves are volunteers. But don't give your work away just because you are new. Negotiate before publication, and do not worry about being presumptuous. So long as we are reasonable and retain our manners during negotiation, we are just doing what business people from all walks of life do on a daily basis.

Amel S. Abdullah

Do you have a question you’d like to see answered on this blog? Post it here, or send it to me via e-mail. All questions sent via e-mail will be posted anonymously (unless you request otherwise). Click here for an index of all questions answered on this blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou very much for answering my question. The comparison of a written piece with crafting clothing or jewlery makes sense. However, because saleable writing is an intangible 'product', it is hard to determine its monetary value. And because each market (i.e. publisher), has different budgets & rates, determining an appropriate value is difficult. Thus, the publishers take the lead in deciding. Hoever, you are right about somewhat taking charge & being able to negotiate.

This blog is maintained by Amel Abdullah, a freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator.