Being paid with Exposure…

There’s a skirmish raging in the publishing industry at the moment… no, I’m not talking about two of the Big Six going head to head over something, or Traditional Publishing attacking Self Publishing.

I’m talking about writers waking up to a strange concept.


When I started writing in the hope of making it a career, I was naive and hopeful. I’d followed an article I read in a Writing Magazine and started out by trying my luck with the Short Story market.

With every acceptance for an anthology I gained, my ego was given a boost. I was going to make it and in just a few months, I’d have accumulated a writer’s CV with enough stories published to wow an agent when I sent out my first book manuscript…

… or at least that is what I thought.

I was careful. After a few submissions paid for in “exposure”,  I went for anthologies and magazines that paid a minimal amount rather than the “for the love of it” publications. My plan was to get a few of those under my belt and then try for the markets that paid multiple pennies per word.
That went awry when I opened my own webzine and realised that unless I paid for writers, I wouldn’t get more than my friends submitting… and I had a sneaking suspicion that my friends were submitting to either shut me up or to make me feel better as my webzine tanked on the views.

I came out of that period a lot wiser. I learned that being a webzine owner / editor wasn’t as easy as it looked and that the stress of getting an issue out each month wasn’t worth the small moment of pride I got each month.
It also taught me that unless I wanted to starve my family, I was going to have to work harder at bringing money in.

(Yes, I know. I live in the UK – our benefits system is supposed to mean no one starves… *snorts*…)

Anyway. That was where I started my inroad into novel publishing.
I’d sent out a large number of novel queries at the same time as the short story foray. It hadn’t gone well.
Exposure wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on after all, I had discovered. Agents weren’t interested in my publishing credits with magazines, even ones that were popular in the genre crowd. They wanted something that they knew would sell to a big publisher, so that they could collect their 15% commission on a large sum.

So now I’m here.

Self publishing is almost as bad as working for “exposure” but at least I get to set the prices when I publish a book. And at least I do get paid… sometimes it might be pennies per book, but at least all those pennies are mine and mine alone.

Chuck Wendig writes a superb blog. He has an entertaining writing style that brings people to his yard for more than just refreshment…  He’s one of my Writing Heroes because he seems to find time to write Books as well as blog pieces. He’s a genius in the art of grabbing his audience by the throat and getting his point across in a few, well chosen words.

He’s also a tad sweary… which I appreciate because I can’t do it properly. There’s an art to swearing that I have never mastered. But I digress.

I’d seen the blog that Wil Wheaton had posted on the subject of Huffington Post’s refusal to pay for his work back in October.  And at the time, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I’d chuckled and agreed with The Oatmeal’s take on Exposure Payment and then in the rush of creativity for NaNoWriMo, I forgot about it again. Until this…


Chuck’s post on the 18th whacked me full force in the face with a wet Kipper and forced me to pay attention to something that I thought wasn’t happening any more.

I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t happening anymore. I haven’t been in that world very much, having been spending more time trying to work on my own novels, worrying about my partner’s back and my children’s  schooling.

But now I realise that the “exposure” payment never actually went away… and that I will never again write anything for just exposure. I will expect some kind of payment – whether that is in kind (so a guest blog post on another blog will always mention my own work somehow; aka free advertising)  or an actual monetary payment.

The only place that you will find my words for free is here – on my own blog. And even here, should you wish to support my writing career, you can. I have several e-books available for purchase on amazon and other places; just type “Kira Morgana” or “A. E. Churchyard” into your favourite e-book site’s search facility.

Just buy yourself something to read and thereby keep my cats in Kittynibbles and my kids in socks… it’s as simple as that.

PS: The only work that will ever be entirely for free will be either my Fanfiction (I don’t believe in profiting from someone else’s work and if the copyright holder objects to it, I’ll remove them from my site) or the stories that get published through Cake & Quill – Charity Anthologies are worth the work for an entirely different reason.

Marketing, Charity Anthologies and Guest Blogs…

You might not have realised this, but I’m an Indie Author.

Don’t look so shocked…

Yes, I know I don’t make a great deal of fuss about it – mostly because I don’t have the money to. It costs more than I ever expected to promote your own work. And this is where the Big Publishers have us Indie authors over a barrel.

They can afford to put adverts into magazines, send out Advanced Review Copies of the books they are publishing to the big papers and top book reviewers. They can set up events in which they can place authors to do talks or signings. They can pay to have the books they’re publishing submitted to the big book awards …

…well how else do you think that the awards get the cash to pay the prizes?…

Marketing is big business. It actually requires a certain amount of knowledge to be done properly, which is why there are actual companies out there that charge large amounts to the big publishers to do their marketing for them.

As a little Indie Author…

…and before anyone gets upset with me, as things go, I am a “little” one; I don’t have the fanbase of the Big Indie Authors, just the few people who visit my blog and FB page…

… as a little Indie Author, I don’t have the cash to splash upon adverts and events and awards. I can barely pay for the upkeep of my Coffee Habit. Marketing for me is something that cuts into the time that I need to use to write / edit / publish. So I don’t do a lot of it.

Currently I am in the Spotlight at Bookshop Bistro, a website dedicated to bringing readers and Independent Authors together. The Heir of the Dragon, my foray into the murky world of werewolves and vampires published under my A. E. Churchyard pen name, is on special offer for 0.99p. Once the Spotlight is over, I’ll put the price back up to £2.99.

This is one of the few marketing opportunities that I can access you see; everything else costs money.
Clearly I need to do more – I’m running out of coffee – but where to go next? I’m a lone voice shouting into a cacophony, trying to be heard and while I love writing, I adore being able to eat – and writing just isn’t putting the money on the table.

It’s depressing.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s the information for The Heir of The Dragon:

Turn a city upside down and shake it – what falls out?

The Treaty that binds the Vampires, Werewolves, Humans and the rarely seen True Dragons is over 1000 years old. It provides stability and safety for all the citizens of the city of Te Ling. Triads and Yakuza are not welcome here and Tourism flourishes amongst the bright lights, Night clubs, Temples and leisure facilities.

But many lights cast a multitude of shadows and they just get darker as you get deeper. Li is as deep into the darkness as you can get: cop by day, shadow by night, he eats and drinks the lifeblood of the city. A threat to the current Te Ling Triang Leader is a threat to the City and The Black Dragon cannot be risked. Li is handed the responsibility of tracking down and removing the threat…preferably permanently .

The special deal is only on Amazon UK – the book is available elsewhere though; just search for A. E. Churchyard

Amazon UK

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I’m in the middle of writing more than one thing again, despite my stated intention to focus on one project at a time! Glutton for punishment, me…

Last month I wrote a short story as a kind of wake up call for my muse Puff. He’d been too somnambulant recently and I needed his input into “The Black Forest” (TTATE Sequel WIP) because I was trying to write a fight scene and it never works properly without him…

Anyway, I posted the story up on my personal Facebook page to see what my writing friends thought of it. Long story short – the story has been selected for inclusion in a charity anthology and I am now officially a Cake & Quill writer!

This is the beautiful cover that my story will be appearing behind –


All proceeds will go to HOME, a charity in Singapore which works for the rights of migrant and domestic workers, and against sex trafficking.

The book itself is currently in the hands of the Editor and will be published later this month, so I’ll post the links etc then!

* * * * * 

And Finally…

Do you have a blog? Would you like to interview me about my work or maybe would like to take a break from writing posts – let me write a guest post for you…

If so, pop over to my Facebook Page – The Ramblings of Kira Morgana – and drop a message on my lap – I promise to get back to you as soon as I can to discuss the particulars…