I have always adored Wil Wheaton. From his Star Trek days to his appearances on some of my favorite TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and @Midnight. I even dvr'd his own show on the Sci-Fi network (Great show, I would like that back, thank you!). But one of the things I love most about Wil Wheaton is his ability to verbalize what the rest of us are already thinking. He is quite loudly opinionated - when it counts - and I love it.
If you haven't seen his latest article, You Can't Pay Your Rent With "The Unique Platform & Reach Our Site Provides", I highly recommend that you do so. In it, he discusses how The Huffington Post approached him about using one of his articles on their site. When he asked about their compensation rates, this is the response he received:
“Unfortunately, we’re unable to financially compensate our bloggers at this time. Most bloggers find value in the unique platform and reach our site provides, but we completely understand if that makes blogging with us impossible.”
Wheaton quickly took to Twitter, as well as his blog, to rant - making statements like "Writers and bloggers: if you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period.", following it up with "This advice applies to designers, photographers, programmers, ANYONE who makes something. You. Deserve. Compensation. For. Your. Work."
As an author/publisher, I agree. I have worked in many of the creative fields - set designer, actor, choreographer, scene painter, now author, editor, and publisher - and I have been approached more times than I can tell you about working for free or "donating my time."
What we do takes time. Painstaking time... when you add in the hours that it takes to plan, write, edit and publish a book - let's just say that most of us make less money than someone working at Mcdonalds. This is why most writers, editors, etc have their hands in many pots - constantly hashing away at something or working several other jobs in addition to writing. Every time we opt to write a piece for "exposure" or for charity, it takes us away from the time we need to put into paying jobs.
While writing a piece for charity or something of the sort is great, writing for a company that makes quite a lot of money (as Wil Wheaton points out HuffPo does) is not okay. We have families to feed, bills to pay, food to buy. Without compensation, the arts community can not survive, let alone thrive.
So, with that thought in mind, I would like to give a big hooray and pat on the back to Wil Wheaton for voicing his opinion, for going against the grain, and for saying what is so often left unsaid. The next time you think that $10 book is too expensive, just ask yourself - what would your plumber or mechanic charge you for putting in the same amount of hours?