Giving away the milk, or investing in the cow?

I believe in getting paid for my work. That said, I’m not getting paid to write these words right now. You may not be paying to read them, either. I’m not even sure how we would go about calculating a fair value for them.

That said, I know they have a worth (however minuscule) that shows up in site traffic, click-throughs, and possibly book purchases.

Not a lot of that income accrues to me, either. But some of it does. Some of you might go to Untreed Reads’ store and buy a short story of mine (and there’ll be another one joining it soon). Some of you might buy an anthology containing one of my stories, and (if I’m really lucky) you might write a review that someone else sees who’s planning another anthology, and they might send me a request to submit.

Some of you might even remember  liking one of those stories this November when my novel gets published by Bold Strokes Books.

The connections are delicate, but they’re there.

Still, I’m not getting paid to write these words. But the time it takes me to write them is an investment in future income, which is of course not guaranteed. But without the investment?

I write fiction. I’ve also written nonfiction—newspaper articles, essays—and I’ve gotten paid for all of them. I don’t get paid to write blog entries, tweet, or try to keep friends and fans entertained on Facebook. Those bits of unpaid writing are promotion and marketing (and occasionally venting spleen).

Am I going to write a story and not get paid for it? No.

Am I going to keep creating content on Red Room and hopefully generating traffic for the site even though a tangible payoff is not in the offing? Absolutely.

The trick is to know when you’re getting paid, when you’re investing in yourself, and when you’re getting ripped off.