Dear Writer, How Do I Get Paid?

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By Amanda Zieba

Dear Writer, 

I’ve been submitting my work to literary journals for a while now, and I’ve been lucky enough to get published in a few of them! While this totally boosts my confidence as a writer, the journals also aren’t paying for my work. Now that I’ve been published a few times by non-paying publications, I’d love to try and get paid for my work. Any suggestions on getting published in a paying market?

Sincerely,

A Writer with a Mortgage

Dear Writer with a Mortgage,

How do you make money as a writer? Now there’s a million-dollar question, right? If you are anything like me, you’ve probably Googled this exact phrase (a few times) only to come back up from the black hole of the internet feeling even more lost and confused. Get rich quick schemes and advertising gimmicks blur your vision from the real goal… earning money from doing something you LOVE.

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The answer is simpler than you might think. The first step to making money as a writer is to write. In a minute I’m going to show you all sorts of great websites and platforms that will actually pay you for your written work, but in order to be successful with these opportunities, you have to have written something to submit. There have been times when I see a contest or a submission call and draft a piece on the spot to send. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, if I dust off a piece from the past, look at it with fresh eyes, adapt it as necessary and send in writing that was NOT contrived, forced, and rushed, my success rate is much higher. So, keep that in mind as you browse through the below opportunities. Always keep writing. Even if there is not a deadline in sight… keep writing. Not only will this very obvious advice help you to improve your craft on a daily basis (yes, daily!), you also never know when a journal entry, poem, long-winded rant – I mean essay – will prove useful in the form of a submission.

Now that we’ve got that taken care of, let’s get down to the business at hand. How do you make money as a writer? Below you will find several paying markets for writers of all genres and levels of expertise. The great thing about most of the opportunities listed below is that they are on-going throughout the year, so no matter when you feel the urge to submit (or the mortgage payment is due) there will be a paid writing opportunity ready and waiting for you.

Funds for Writers

C. Hope Clark is a mystery writer, but her larger claim to fame is her award-winning website Funds for Writers which sends out (and archives) a weekly eNewsletter featuring “30 paying opportunities in the form of contests, grants, freelance opportunities, and publishers/agents.” Delivered each and every Friday, this eNewsletter is the perfect way to quickly learn about paid writing gigs. In addition to this weekly treasure trove of submission calls, C. Hope Clark also pays writers $50 for articles about making money as a writer. Here are two pieces that I wrote for her several years ago. My next articles in the newsletter, reprints from my own site, will appear later this year. Her most recent contribution to the paid writing community is a book titled: Writing Contests with Hope where I’m sure she’ll tell you even more ways to earn money as a writer.

Freedom with Writing

Freedom with Writing is another similar site. You can either sign up for their weekly email or browse their website for paid writing opportunities that match your genre or topics of interest. Submission calls are organized into groups and presented in batches of writing opportunities. For example, their website currently lists: 10 Themed Calls For Short Stories that Pay $100 to $300 and 10 Publishers that Pay Writers $200 Per Article.

Reedsy

If you are a fiction writer and like writing prompts, then the weekly Reedsy email is one you are definitely going to want to sign up for. Reedsy is a company that sells self-publishing resources, so most of their efforts go toward marketing their services, but every Friday morning, they also deliver an email with five themed writing prompts. Pick a prompt, write to it and submit it within the week. Reedy’s editors will pick one submitted story to post on their blog and also pay you $50. I know this opportunity is legit because back in March 2017, I won.

Submittable

Submittable is a submission manager platform that also lists hundreds, probably thousands, of submission opportunities. The site is also used for admission to camps, scholarships applications and a variety of other limited-quantity type events, so the entire site isn’t devoted to writing. But a large part of it is. My favorite thing about this site (other than its ability to help you keep track of where you sent in your work and the results) is that you can search by topic, genre and type of opportunity. Parenting. Science Fiction. Grants. Awards. Nonprofit work. Chapbook. Juried. Native American. Thriller. If you are an impatient kind of writer (aren’t we all!) you can browse by due date and select something that has a quick deadline to decrease your wait time. Again, this is where having a cache of pieces in the wings is helpful. An hour of searching could uncover a dozen opportunities to submit (and get paid for!) things you have already written! Go check it out. Pick out a handful, and toss your hat in the ring.

Women on Writing

Women on Writing is a website that holds contests for flash fiction and creative nonfiction all year round! Varying pay levels for prize winners and publication opportunities await the winning writers. I have made it into the second round of judging (top 20) in the contest before, but no prize money yet. I submitted for their Spring Quarterly Contest, so fingers crossed! The great thing about this contest is that you can pay an additional $10 with your entry fee for a critique of your piece. The opportunity to get unbiased feedback is so rare, and to do it at such a bargain price is unheard of!

Our Wisconsin

For the nonfiction writers of the guild, Our Wisconsin is a magazine that “celebrates all that is great about the Badger State.” You can see their list of departments that run articles each month here and their contributor guidelines here. Payment for publication in this magazine is not publicly stated, however, the website does say, “Story and photo packages that we print covering a page or more in the magazine are compensated with an appropriate freelance writer’s fee. Short submissions we print that are a few paragraphs in length, or photos we publish that cover less than a page in the magazine, are compensated with our thank-you gift of a freshly baked Amish pie.” How very Wisconsin.

You can find a list of Wisconsin Magazines to reach out to individually here. The Wisconsin Writers Association put together this list of contests and publishing opportunities that can be viewed here and Author’s Publish website created a list of 32 Literary Journals that Pay which you can see here. The Wisconsin Council of Writers gives out awards, accompanied by a monetary prize annually, and the Wisconsin Writers Association has also curated a list of paying awards.

Really, all it takes is a little patience and time to dig for the opportunity that is a good fit for you… and writing… and the ability to wait.

I hope that this list will get help you find a way to be paid for doing what you love. Don’t forget to share your success and exciting news with the guild once the paycheck arrives! If there’s something we love more than writing, it’s sharing the joy that comes from it with writing friends!

Happy writing,

Amanda Zieba

Learn more about Amanda and her writing by clicking this link!