As a creative trying to breaking into your dream industry, opportunities can be far and few between. That doesn’t mean you should accept work and do it for nothing, or give up your time to maybe get noticed. If you needed any more convincing on why you should never work for free, science fiction author Harlan Ellison provides a compelling argument. Fair warning, the video contains a few instances of strong language.
The snippet here is from a while back — 2007 to be exact — and taken from a documentary about the writer called “Dreams with Sharp Teeth”:
“They always want the writer to work for nothing. And the problem is there’s so many god damn many writers who have no idea they’re supposed to be paid. Every time they do something, they do it for nothing. ‘They’re going to look at me, I’m going to be noticed!’ You tell me: are they any less the media whore than I? I think not.
Nobody’s offered to buy their soul. I sell my soul… but at the highest rates.”
Obviously, Ellison was, and is, in a different position both in terms of finances and reputation, than most aspiring writers. But the message is clear — if something sounds like you should be getting paid for it… you should probably be getting paid for it.