• The Top 5 Reasons Writers Don’t Want to Pay for Writers’ Services

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Dos & Don'ts     Comments 14 comments

    vintage-842337__180It’s uncomfortable to talk about money: who has it, who needs it, how we spend it and why. But in my experience in both writing and life, the uncomfortable conversations are the most important ones to have (the birds and the bees, et al.).

    So, in the spirit of productive discomfort, today we’re going to tackle a crucial issue that comes up daily here at WriteByNight: the cost of writers’ services.

    Let’s be real: services cost money. Whether you’re having your car detailed, your apartment cleaned, your hair cut, or your health checked, you pay to access the expertise of another. This is specialization in action. You know how to do certain things, and don’t know how to do others. Thankfully, there’s someone out there who knows what you don’t.

    Intellectually we all know this, but our emotions are another story, and boy, are our feelings powerful. We can convince ourselves of all kinds of things to avoid spending dough, even when it’s on stuff we need — maybe especially then.

    What follows are the top five reasons writers don’t want to pay for writers’ services and — you guessed it — why it’s so important that you do:


    “I don’t need them.”

    WBN’s core writers’ services — critique, editing, and coaching — are such because they tap into the core elements of the writing process itself: revision, expression, and education, respectively. No writer can be successful in a literary endeavor without these ingredients, and no writer can provide all of them for himself.

    “I’ve read this manuscript a million times,” you might say. “I’m more familiar with it than anyone. Surely, if anyone can see clearly what it needs, it’s me.” Actually, the exact opposite is true. It’s precisely because you are so close to the project that you’re unable to approach it objectively.

    I’m going to give it to you straight, folks. A writer who says, “I don’t need fresh eyes on my work” or “I don’t need an editor” or “I don’t need any guidance” is actually saying, “I don’t understand the creative process, and I don’t want to.”

    “Okay, but who cares if my manuscript isn’t perfect? Readers don’t notice typos.” You will, and they do. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t fall into the trap of doing what’s easy (and cheap!) instead of what’s best for you and your writing.


    “My friend said he’d help me.”

    It’s tempting. We get it. You could “hire” your friend to look at your writing for free, or you could hire us to work with your writing for a fee. If you’re budget-conscious, this might feel like the easiest decision in the world.

    But consider this: Would you let your friend rewire your kitchen because he read a book about electrical engineering? Would you let your friend go to work in your place because he finds what you do interesting? Would you let your friend perform surgery on you because he watches Grey’s Anatomy?

    I don’t think so. (And if your answer differs, let’s talk, because… whoa.)

    Writers’ services are no different. Critique (a.k.a. developmental editing), line editing, proofreading, etc., these are highly specialized skills that not just anyone can deliver.

    We don’t doubt your friends are smart and insightful and have helpful things to tell you about your writing, and that’s great! We love that. Talk to your friends about your work; just don’t talk only to your friends.


    “I can find them cheaper.”

    In today’s Googlized world, comparison shopping is king. We don’t buy anything without carefully weighing all of our many, many options, and oh my, how we love a deal.

    But the reality is that the cheapest option is not always the best option. It comes down to six little words: You get what you pay for.

    Often, after consulting with a writer about working together, he’ll decide that, although our services sound “very valuable” and “exactly what [he’s] looking for,” a low-cost option is best. Nine times out of ten, we hear from this writer again within a few months because that too-good-to-be-true opportunity actually was. Now he’s back where he started — sometimes even a few steps behind — wishing he had gone with his gut in the first place.

    We don’t have a crystal ball; we can’t always know the right thing to do. But we can be aware — of how specialized this work is, of how many concentrated hours it takes to treat a manuscript carefully and thoroughly, of acceptable standards of quality and competitive market rates that are not rock-bottom.

    And we can beware of “professionals” who are willing to work for next to nothing, and wonder why. Are they inexperienced? Are they desperate for any work they can get? What’s in it for them?


    “I can’t afford them.”

    This, I think, is the trickiest reason of all to contend with. We’d all like more money (duh!). We’d all like to be able to afford whatever, whenever. It’s very pretty to think about, but unless you’re one of a very small minority, it just ain’t so.

    This is the stuff of reality: what you can’t afford, you can’t afford. What I want to think about today, though, is what affordability really means.

    It’s all about prioritizing. Maybe I can’t afford new skis because I just bought a new snowboard. (Does anyone snowboard anymore?) It’s not that I don’t have the money; it’s that I chose to spend it on something else.

    Or maybe I can’t afford quality writers’ services because I paid the lowest bidder to treat me and my manuscript badly. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Be aware.

    You can get writing coaching with WBN for less than the price of your monthly cable bill. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

    It’s like when my coaching clients tell me that they just don’t have time to write. Between work, family, and all the various demands of daily life, where are they supposed to find the time?

    “How many hours of television did you watch this week?” I ask. The next week, they’re writing again. Priorities.


    “I didn’t know about them.”

    Well, now you do, so let’s chat! Here at WBN, every relationship begins with a conversation. Request your free writing consultation now


    Your Turn

    Which of these five reasons resonates the most with you? Do you have any others to add to the list? What is stopping you from taking advantage of writers’ services?


    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

    Justine Duhr, ownerWriteByNight owner Justine Duhr is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, The Review Review, and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing and has provided writing instruction at Vassar College and Emerson College.


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    Glynis Jolly

    I fall into the fourth category. I have just enough money to pay the monthly bills. I’m married, which means my wants aren’t always considered, just like my husband’s aren’t either. The balancing act of our finances are frail. I must choose what to pay for with extreme care. Both my husband and I are disabled, which complicates the money issue. As I move forward with my WiP, I continue to scout around for critique groups, editors, and trusting support, continually mindful of the cost. Writing is a solitary journey for the most part, which doesn’t require wads of money.… Read more »

    Bruce Carroll

    Hi, Glynis.

    I’d be willing to work with you. Perhaps we can coach each other. I’ve been learning Japanese and have not had a teacher. Instead, I use language exchange partners. I help them learn English, they help me learn Japanese. Not only do we both save the cost of a teacher, we learn the language as it is really spoken: not always grammatically correct and often filled with slang that just isn’t in textbooks. Perhaps we could discover similar advantages by working together? Just a thought.


    Justine Duhr

    Thanks for sharing, Glynis.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with “scout[ing] around for critique groups, editors, and trusting support, continually mindful of the cost.” That’s a smart thing to do. Writing is solitary, as you say, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Seeking affordable, quality support is advisable; settling for subpar support is not.

    Re: Bruce, accountability partners (to be differentiated from coaching) strongly encouraged!

    Bruce Carroll

    I have three comments about this article. 1) “Would you let your friend rewire your kitchen because he read a book about electrical engineering? Would you let your friend go to work in your place because he finds what you do interesting? Would you let your friend perform surgery on you because he watches Grey’s Anatomy? I don’t think so. (And if your answer differs, let’s talk, because… whoa.)” I have friends who are excellent electricians, and have helped some of them on their jobs. When my father built his home, he, my uncle, and I wired the entire house,… Read more »

    Amber M

    I can’t afford cable either. Doesn’t mean I begrudge the cable
    companies for advertising to me. Egads, a company trying to
    sell their services! What outrage will come next?

    I used this company once and had a good experience. I can’t
    Spend the money now to do so again, even if I had a project. But
    They make a lot of free stuff available and their content is helpful,
    So that’s why I’m here at 9:30 pm on a Saturday. im in Glen’s boat
    Above, but I’m not in yours.

    Someone from The Masses

    Justine Duhr

    Hi, Amber. Thank you for your kind words about our services. I’m thrilled that you had a good experience.

    We try hard to provide as much value as we can to as many writers as we can via free stuff and affordable services, so I’m really glad to hear that you’re taking advantage of those offerings. We’re very much looking forward to working with you again when the time is right.

    Thank you for being here at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday, and for all the other times you’re here with us!

    Bruce Carroll

    Hi, Amber. Of course I understand companies need to advertise their services. But after reading the article above, I feel as if I’m being “guilted” into buying their services. That doubtless says more about me than it does about WBN.

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks so much for your honest commentary, Bruce. We really appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts. I understand where you’re coming from. Money is a touchy subject, and generalizations like those I’ve made in my post are bound to touch a nerve. No way five broad categories can accurately capture each and every writer’s unique situation. We at WBN believe deeply in transparency and honesty, in our marketing efforts, our services, and beyond. We feel it’s important for writers to understand what goes on behind the scenes, what goes into the professional treatment of a manuscript, and why we… Read more »

    Amber M

    Maybe a distinction between “I can’t afford them” and
    “No, like, I literally can’t afford them.” Because there have
    Been times I’ve been in the first camp: hard to afford
    But not impossible if I gave something up and prioritized.
    While now I’m in camp #2. There’s a point where one
    Becomes the other, and that’s maybe where someone truly
    Discovers whether he or she places a priority on writing pursuits.

    Amber M.

    Justine Duhr

    That’s an excellent point, Amber. It’s not *always* about priorities. There’s reality to contend with, and that can’t be ignored. Like I said, “What you can’t afford, you can’t afford.”

    Thank you so much for emphasizing that distinction. It’s an important one!


    I enjoyed the whole article, and I appreciate the dialog. On this one, Justine’s style is a little more contentious than I would most appreciate. But I’m the sensitive artist type. :-) Here are my thoughts on the five ideas: Do we need writing services? Yes. Writing is largely a solo process, but not entirely. J. R. R. Tolkien never would have gotten his head out of the vast history of Middle-earth (The Silmarillion) and published The Lord of the Rings if his good friend C. S. Lewis hadn’t pushed him for a story, and then read it chapter by… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    Well put, Sid. Thanks for reading and weighing in.

    Annie Sargeant

    One thing I noticed was that by paying the money I
    was instantly inspired to write, I mean how could I not
    having spent the money ? And even better, the expenditure
    gave validity to my effort. A self-validation if you will
    that kicked me in the ass.

    Justine Duhr

    Yes! Monetary motivation is real. Motivation can be fickle, especially for writers, so it’s important to do what works.

    Thanks for sharing, Annie.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x