Internet Writer And Real Writer

By real writers, I’m talking about print writers, folks.  I call them real because, well, that’s how many of them distinguish themselves from us Internet writers.  It’s also how most non-writers I’ve ever talked to distinguish between print and Internet writing.  I don’t like it, and don’t think it’s right; but this kind of change takes time.  So, for today, let’s just assume I’m writing real with a bit of sarcasm behind the keyboard, shall we?  If you feel the need, substitute print for real.

At any rate, if you can get a book, newspaper column, or a regular magazine feature published, you’re ahead of the writing game.  You’re a real writer.  You’re a professional.  And professionals don’t do personal.  And Internet writing is all about the personal.  Real writers don’t blog or write on the Internet.

Creative Commons License photo credit: 神酒 Coal 

2365850371_e3bfe67f16_m.jpgThere are exceptions.  Orangette can get a column in Bon Appetit and Darren Rowse can get a book deal.  Fantasy writers like my good friend Kameron Franklin (if you like Forgotten Realms novels, go buy his book right now!) and game designers like Monte Cook all blog regularly.  You might find a Dave Barry, occasionally, who blogs.  These are the exceptions, though.

Here’s another thing.  Everybody knows that real writing pays a hell of a lot more than Internet writing.  Certainly, if you’re Men with Pens, you can charge a premium rate of $.20 a word to write content.  For the most part, though, great pay for Internet writing comes in at right around a nickel a word; average pay for Internet writing comes in at right around $.02 a word.  Don’t believe me?  Check out eLance, ScriptLance, Guru, or even the CopyBlogger Jobs board.

Print writing varies greatly in pay, but it starts out at around $.25 a word for most publications, and $1 a word isn’t unheard of, even for unknown writers.

James at Men With Pens calls this the Great Divide.  Today, Freelance Writing Jobs is exploring the nature of that divide, spurred by James’ comments.  In some ways, this discussion mirrors the WebComics vs. Print Comics debate that’s been raging for quite some time (Check here and here for a taste of that one.)  I’ve a feeling that this discussion is going to be ongoing, and it should.  This is an important discussion.  The divide not only exists, it is rampant. 

But, why is this?  Why don’t real writers write on the Internet?  I think part of it has to do with the fact that real writers get paid for every word they write that is published.  Real writers write a heck of a lot more material than what is ever published.  For each magazine article submission I’ve ever made that was accepted, I’ve written at least 4 different articles that weren’t.  At $.50 a word that works out to about… well, a decent Internet writing rate of $.12 per word – at the high end of the midrange for Internet writing.

And that’s the biggest, or at least the most significant, difference:  Internet writers get paid for every word they write.  Internet writers are about volume.  Real writers are about volume, too; but only a small portion of what they write ever makes it into print.

The market for Internet writing is very different, too.  There is a solid market for, maybe, 3 to 6 Civil War-themed magazines.  There is a market for thousands of Civil War-themed web sites.  What does that mean for writers?  Well, there are many implications, of course.  Pay is just one.  Beginning on Monday, I’m going to explore some of those implications including: