The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

off topic--business

Have I ever posted this?

It's Harlan Ellison's "Pay the Writer" rant. I adore it.

Two not-very related thoughts:

1. When one of my sons was in language therapy at a certain place, there was a sliding scale for fees. One of the administrators told me that even though the institute had enough donations for the year to cover the entire cost of services for families at the neediest end of the scale, they still charged those families a token five dollars per session. I think the full cost at that time was something like $75 a half hour, and many parents were paying that amount.

Why did the office charge poor families? This place was fully booked and appointments were hard to come by, and there was a long waiting list of kids waiting to get help. But the office had found that parents who didn't have to pay tended to blow off appointments. They wouldn't call to cancel or postpone--they just didn't show up. The valuable time slots went unused, and the therapists sat around twiddling their thumbs till the next patient came as scheduled.

However, if the office charged five dollars for the visit, the problem virtually ceased to exist. Parents made a concerted effort to bring their kids in for the scheduled sessions. If they couldn't make it, they called ahead of time to let the therapist know. There was no charge for missed appointments, so that wasn't a variable. The parents simply valued the therapy more because they had to pay for it.

Here's what I think. I think that publishers also tend to place more value on what they pay for. I think that perceived value is directly proportional to the respect, courtesy, and professionalism with which writers are treated.

2. Once I got hired for a w-f-h project, along with a handful of other writers. The company decided that the best way to set a price per passage was to have us all submit a price, then average them. So guess what: somebody lowballed. I don't know who it was, or if it was more than one writer. All I know is that on a conference call, one of the other writers was saying that this job sure sounded like fun, and since s/he didn't really need the money, there was no pressure to interfere with the joy of writing for kids.

Here's what I think. When writers who have the luxury of getting altruistic and theoretical about pay actually get altruistic and theoretical about pay, some other writer who can't afford that luxury is likely to get screwed.

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