"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Confessions of a "Kept" Writer...

In an industry of fleeting relationships, and "here today gone tomorrow" dynamics, I have maintained professional partnerships that have "stuck" like weight gain after Christmas.
Even during tough economic times, I have kept many of the same clients and editors over the years. Faithfully.

As a "kept" writer, I've also been fortunate to enjoy "spoils" not afforded to every freelancer.
Word to the wise: not every writer has to be a "starving artist." Much like a romantic relationship, it all depends upon what you are willing to bring to the table, and what you are willing to accept, in terms of treatment.

Though a "kept" woman should never kiss and tell, I disclose this information not for the purpose of bragging, but for the sake of enlightenment.

Here are some of the perks of being a "kept" writer, (that you won't necessarily discover in the "fine print," writer's guidelines, or compensation clause):
  • Better pay than what is posted as "standard" freelance rates. In other words, if a publication pays its writers 10 cents a word, I typically make 15 cents. Though this is not true for all the magazines I write for, over the last few years, it's been more of a rule than an exception.
  • Periodic pay increases without formally requesting a raise. Recently, I was surprised to discover that one of my favorite editors had tacked on $25.00 extra to my PayPal pay, for an assignment, with a personal note that she was giving me a raise in appreciation of my contributions and consistency.
  • Quicker response times from busy editors.
  • Choice assignments.
  • Better rates on reprints. For example, I just "re-sold" an article for $100.00. Though in all fairness, I should also establish that the article was expanded from the original version.   
Here are a few pointers on how you too can become "kept."
  • Have a good work ethic and a professional attitude.
I remember a long time ago, when I served as an editor for a regional publication, I hired a woman who had the "delivery" skills of Michael Jordan. There was just one problem. She was a "diva" who was demanding and difficult to work with. As a result, she didn't stay in the game very long.
  •   Be reliable.
You can possess Pulitzer potential, but if editors, clients and publishers can't rely on you to meet important deadlines, you're not worth much.

  • Keep Confidences.
Sure, you may want to boast about that great ghost writing gig for a celebrity, or share some juicy gossip you heard from a fellow writer about a well known editor. Keep it to yourself, or write it in your diary. Remember, "loose lips sink ships!"

  • Turn in quality work consistently
Anybody can produce a good article, blog post, or E-book, one time, with a little luck and a little creativity. The true "litmus test" comes in when you can maintain high standards over time.

  • Have a unique "voice," an informed perspective, and the courage to speak your own truths.
Dare to be different.

Besides the benefits listed above, being "kept" can save today's writer time, energy and stress--particularly when it comes to scouring job boards for new clients, pitching publications, and other marketing efforts. The less rotation the better.

So follow these savvy tips, and discover the joys of being "kept," darling. :-)

Thoughts? Questions? Anything I should add?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Love this, Jen. I did have to laugh though, never thought of you as a kept woman. :)

    I've found this to be true. The editor of one publication I've written for in the past told me earlier this year she wanted me to write a column for them, and what would I charge? The price I charged, though very reasonable in freelance terms, is double what they pay unsolicited contributors. Another magazine that I write for maybe twice a year is now exchanging an article for an ad (for my teen online writing classes). The ad runs in the several hundreds of dollars, and is not in my budget normally. I am happy with the exchange - I've gained most of my recent students through these ads.

    for regularly has offered me an ad exchange

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 19, 2013 at 4:21 AM


      This is lovely to hear; congrats to you! Thanks for starting us off today.

  2. Jen--Be a pleasure to work with. (That can apply to both kinds of "keptness." ;)

    Smile (and make that smile evident in your correspondence about projects). Express your gratitude (for the job). Have the kind of attitude that keeps married lovers/editors comin' back for more...

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 19, 2013 at 4:22 AM


      Thanks so much for weighing in here; it was very "kind" of you. :-)

  3. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I am working on honing my "unique voice". Also, I am hoping to find editors who will fall in love with me, and keep me :)