Do writers deserve to be paid?

I've been interested in this argument for some time, but I have to confess I don't really understand it. I also don't agree with the premise, so I can't explore it myself.

I'm issuing an invitation for a guest post. If anyone would like to write a post explaining and defending this premise, I'd eagerly post it on this blog.

P.S. Before you get upset about my questioning the premise, let me point out that I can see any number of logical fallacies in the statement. That's why I don't believe it. Feel free to change my mind.

About Nate Hoffelder (11390 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

11 Comments on Do writers deserve to be paid?

  1. WTF! Of COURSE writers deserve to be paid. WTF do you think writing is, masturbation? Shit, people even get paid for masturbation — when it’s filmed. Sometimes not even that. Goddammed teenagers are webcamming their wank sessions for pay!

  2. Not always, like I don’t deserve to be paid for this msg.

  3. they create a product and sell it. if someone buys it then they’ve done good enough work to deserve it. just about like another other craftsman.

  4. I’m not sure I understand the question.
    (To everyone who reads it, english is not my native so forgive my mistakes)
    I believe the basics of economics apply to this.
    What I mean is:
    Despite the fact this is the place when readers/writers are concerned , writers are no different than any other consumer goods manufacturers. In this case the goods is the ‘literature’. So writers produce literature. The word ‘deserve’ imply that the value of the ‘literature’ could be somehow evaluated in absolute way. Which I believe is incorrect. There are no such thing as absolute value (of anything for that matter).
    The whole idea is that the value is relative to the person it concerns. Of course the distinction needs to be made between value and price. If producer wants to sell goods he puts the price for the product. But in his mind the price is always higher than the value he thinks the product is worth. The buyer on the other hand does the opposite way. It sees the price and estimates if the value of product is higher for him that the price. If so he buys the product. So buy/sell is just a kind of a social agreement where every side feels as a ‘winner’. This is how any trade works. This way the seller sold the product for price that is above products value (in his perspective) and the buyer bought it below the products value (in his product).
    So the question “do writers deserve to be paid” does not make much sense because the value of the writers ‘product’ is always relative. What is more, since bying ‘literature’ is not obligatory, buyer as ‘voter’ votes with his wallet whether he wants the product or not. No one if forced to buy anything. This way the word ‘deserve’ does not make much sense because everyone will evaluate literature in different way.
    The word ‘deserve’ would make sense if the in some way everybody could not ‘vote’ by his wallet willingly but forcefully. So if there was no choice, some public consensus about ‘value’ must be established. This is for example the case when we pay taxes and politicians get payed from it.
    Question that would make much more sense in my opinion could be:
    Do politicians deserve to receive so much/little money for ‘quality’ of service they provide for public?
    Gary
    Sorry for the long post

  5. I think the question has morphed into 2 now. Do writers deserve to be paid? In the instance of books/prose/poetry/scripts, that is simple – yes.
    Columns/blogs – One would hope advertising would do so but that rarely is the case. By the reader? Would readership drop/end? -Probably. If the writer is employed by the owner of the column/blog/site then yes would be a reasonable answer. Most blogs (as in my case) are expressions of opinion sometimes backed by technical knowledge and the writer does so not for pay but to reach to others and promote a response – Heaven knows, I am still waiting! The second question of a responder being paid? No, not going to happen as the responder is volunteering their reply and on that basis it is for free. So in a wonderful world the writer would be paid but here, an independent writer rarely if ever is paid.

  6. Let me put it this way: If my work is up for sale, or if someone is making a profit off of my words, then hell yes, I OUGHT to be paid.

    I could write you such a long rant on this, but I not subject you to that.

    I blog, and I host a couple of web sties, but those are part labors of love and part promotional tools. I don’t accept advertising.

    Most of my income is from freelancing, and few things rankle me more than the prospective client who loves my work and would gladly pay me Tuesday for work I do today. In my experience, Tuesday never comes.

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