Harlan Ellison rants about writer’s pay and the amateurs who screw things up for the pros

Do you like writing for free? Do you enjoy businesses asking you to just “give” them your work for the supposed PR value? I’m guessing the answer is “no” to both questions.

Harlan Ellison agrees with you. And in this video, he talks about how writer’s should get paid and how amateurs willing to work for nothing make things difficult for the professionals.

Now, if you know anything about Ellison, you know this isn’t going to be a polite Sunday sermon. So be warned. He’s a man who speaks his mind bluntly.

What do you think? Do you agree with Ellison’s sentiments?

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7 Responses to “Harlan Ellison rants about writer’s pay and the amateurs who screw things up for the pros”

  1. Shama Hyder on February 8th, 2008 1:41 pm

    He is so in the entertainment industry. = )

    I am not sure I agree, but I do believe everyone should be compensated for the value they provide. Charity for Non-profits is one thing, but Warner Brothers-they better pay! = )

  2. Janice C Cartier on February 8th, 2008 2:23 pm

    Go Harlan , go Harlan.

    The beauty of truth.

    Ahhh, nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning….oops it’s lunchtime…still works.

    Thanks for his one.

    All best, Jan

  3. Tom Reeves on February 8th, 2008 7:41 pm

    Thanks for this post. I liked the video so much I had to put it up on my site too. With full credit here.

    I love it when Harlan says, “How dare you call me and want me to work for nothing?”

  4. Ted Grigg on February 10th, 2008 1:50 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Amateurs undercut the professional in all trades, not just copywriting.

    That is why qualifying our clients is so critical. Just because a company or individual needs our professional services does not automatically make them a good prospect. They must respect what we do with an appropriate payment.

    So amateurs represent only one side of the coin. Clients also must share in the blame of wanting and expecting services for free only to end up with poor results.

    The old maxim still rings true. You will get what you pay for.

  5. Dean Rieck on February 10th, 2008 3:37 pm

    There are a lot of new copywriters getting into the business today because of a zillion people selling information on becoming a copywriter, much of it in the “get rich quick” category.

    There is also a disturbing trend for doing “spec work,” which I think is a bane on the profession. Copywriters and designers in the general ad industry have always done spec work, because freelancers there are generally out of work and looking for a job. But direct marketing has been largely free of this practice until recently because freelancers are often the ones doing the very best work available to marketers and it is worth paying for.

    I have tried spec work in the past, and it never led to regular paying work or a good client relationship. I never work for free today. EVER.

  6. Chad | ProFreelancing on February 11th, 2008 8:28 pm

    Wow, what an interview!

    While I wouldn’t put it so harshly myself, I agree with everything he said. Spec work, internships, and everything else that is for free is BS.

    Sure, some of it may lead to an opportunity down the road…but let’s face the facts – the main purpose for this kind of arrangement is to take advantage of the writer/worker that is hoping for an opportunity down the road.

    I will never work for free.

  7. Roberta Rosenberg on February 12th, 2008 2:33 pm

    Take a look at http://www.no-spec.com/ … You want me to write for free? Ask me first. You want to see how well I write, I’ll give you a sample … for free.

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