Re – The Importance of Paying Writers

@enoquin. I agree with you on the importance of paying writers. And I wouldn’t have given the below response if you had kept your complaint to a single comment. But maybe if you know a little bit more about the idea and people behind this project, Women’s Tale, maybe you would have a different thing to say.


(Comment 1:enoquin: In my opinion…people should always try to give participating writers a small token…the idea of always looking for volunteer writers will not encourage ‘the writing industry’ that is if there’s even one yet.)

First, let me say it strikes me very interesting that you found nothing else to comment on in the said call for submissions than the aspect that informs the readers that FOR NOW, pending when this new magazine finds its foot, the magazines will not be paying contributors just like almost every other magazine and newspaper in the world. In the world, not in Nigeria. I will like to know magazine that pays once in a while contributors in the world, especially a new outfit. I have contributed articles to few national dailies and magazines in the past and none has paid me for it. You do not demand to be paid for opportunity to air your view, although at some time in your career your opinion may bring you money.

For sure, if this was an anthology or a collection of materials, the contributors will be entitled to payment when the project must have broken even. But certainly not before.  But this is not the case at all. For starters, the minds behind this particular project are university undergraduates and fresh graduates. Young people who came together for a cause. A laudable cause, I might add. As a matter of fact, the originator of the idea is a 19 year old writer. This is not Tell, or Newswatch, these are not millionaires, or people who seek to make money from the project. These are idealists who just believe (naively, maybe) that they can make a change in a world that is so skewed and fucked up. And by God, these people have done their homework very well. They had all the materials they thought would be enough for their first issue. Until I came in.

When I met the initiator, Edner Yunusa, I was impressed with what these young men and women have on their own accomplished and I prevailed on Miss Yunusa to allow contributions from other people so as to give the magazine a wider and varied outlook. She concurred and that was why I helped put this call for submissions on NS and my blog, believing that people of like mind might have relevant materials they would like to publish in a print media.

(Comment II: enoquin:  …wait for the magazine launch and you will see the money that will be spent on the launching…Please oh, I am not trying to discourage anyone…but haba…more dignity should be ascribed to writers abeg!)

You said in your comment that you had no intention of discouraging anyone. How thoughtful of you. You did however manage to discourage me and I’m sure the brilliant, selfless and hardworking people, who without anyone’s help or money and perhaps with their meager pocket money designed this project and put it in motion, would not be so thrilled with your comments and the distraction and digression they caused.

(Comment III: enoquin: …Are they not paying for the magazine or the design? So why can’t the ones that will provide the content i.e the authors get paid too…)

Yes, these people would have had to pay for graphics design if not that someone who is not so concerned about only making money has volunteered to do it for them for FREE. Of course, they still need money for the actual publication and seeing that the combined savings of these ladies and young men cannot even get them 100 copies of magazine, they still need to source money for that. Which they are already doing to a degree of success. If you have done some voluntary community service before, you would know how easy it is to raise fund for a project like this in Nigeria. The money always comes raining…

What about advertisement? Yeah, advisement is where magazines make their money, but getting advertisement for a new outfit is like trying to climb Kilimanjaro. Not impossible but certainly herculean. You might want to ask NS admin about this. I know this very well because I chaired two editorial boards of a magazine while in school. And on both occasion, we did not make commercial profits, we commercially ran at loss. But we were nonetheless satisfied and proud with what we accomplished, and we had great feelings that we helped couple of aspiring writers kick start their publishing career. You know that feeling you get when you have done something worthwhile. You should try it sometimes, it works wonder. And on launching, ask any Nigeria (with no ties to political power) about that. You will be enlightened with their answers. Most times you may not even make enough money to offset your launching bill. Publishing by upcoming publishers and writers is not yet a very profitable business in Nigeria, with or without elaborate launching ceremony. That, my sister, is a fact.

While I appreciate the fact that writers should be paid for their talent, this apparently cannot be the case all the time. Sometimes you write ten pieces for free and sometimes you write one for a hundred thousand naira. I have done both. Soyinka and Achebe, Clark and Okigbo must have done tons of such ‘voluntary writing’ in their early days especially during their undergraduate (University Herald, The Bug), but today a Soyinka’s average speech goes for couple of millions of naira. Those students’ magazines you probably enjoyed on campus were most likely a product of ‘voluntary writers’. And what do we even do on NS here or on our Blog and Facebook if not voluntary writing? Voluntary writers most often than not become (intensely sought after) commercially successful writers.

Thank you!



Editors Note

Naija Stories believes strongly in paying writers and we have set up a payment system (click on link for details) whereby at least 10 writers have already been paid. Our regular writing contests also mean that even more writers have been rewarded for putting their work on this site. Our anthology #1 has a contract attached with royalty procedures, and we soon plan to begin publishing individual members so they can earn even more money from their work.

Finally, we do not mean to offend or open an avenue for trading insults by allowing this post. We think that despite the rancorous tone, the opinion in it raises a good discussion for writers and publishers to have. Respectfully. All opinions are welcome.

38 thoughts on “Re – The Importance of Paying Writers” by layrite (@layrite)

  1. It is good that you have shed more light on the background of this magazine , especially the fact that the founders are young graduates. With this information, it is more understandable that they request for voluntary writers. However , @enoquin ‘s points should be considered in a larger context , our community truly does not have enough incentives for writers, and some bodies (magazines included) tend to exploit the labour of freelance writers and appropriate our work in exchange for “exposure” and “gaining experience”. I am sure you will agree with this unfortunate fact.
    Nevertheless , I see that the magazine on women’s tale is not seeking to exploit writers at all, it is still growing. I wish them all the very best.

    As a guy, if I have any chick-lit tale idea , i’ll submit ;)

  2. Well said. Each side with its argument…

    However, this is a lesson in little beginnings. Someday, people will ‘waste’ millions of dollars just to listen to you speak 500 words, but for now, EXPOSURE is the priority. Of course, there are paying markets one can try. (Like the FB page Writers Afrika – if you haven’t – for such info.)

    Whichever way you want it – pay or publicity – there are publication avenues for you if you look in the right places.

    And even this free writing you are doing up and down, you just wait; one day, when you are significantly exposed, you will compile these into a book and peeps will buy! Na so Achebe and Adichie do their collection (abi?)

    Really, this is not a matter to burn fat over. Nothing spoil.

    Ka o di. :-)

  3. @layrite I laugh in annang…..Is it because of me you sat down to pen this epistle? Hmm na wa o….I couldn’t even read the whole thing, if not that I saw my name on twitter I wouldn’t have even known.

    My dear, I have the right to give my opinion…you have the right to either understand or not the direction I might have come from…I will not drag issues but I stand by what I have said. I have written many freebies and have been paid for some of my writings, infact the best birthday gift I received was a book on pidgin anthology (poetry)…it was posted here on NaijaStories and I decided to write that pidgin poetry to challenge myself….I got the book through DHL 5pm on my birthday just as I was about to close at work, that was a freebie writing but the fact that my name was on a book more than compensated enough…..I mean this what all writers want; their name on a book

    Let’s even leave all that; if you were pained at my words why didn’t you address them under that post why sit and write a whole epistle carrying over anger for nothing (for if you misunderstood my rants, I have a right to misunderstood this epistle as well)….this, in my opinion is how wars and feuds start….over something that required a simple clarification.

    If the world is doing it, my dear it is not in your place to compare; when we have 24/7 power and internet
    subscription is seen as nothing….then you can by all means compare us to the world…how many people read in Nigeria? How strong is the literary industry? Do you know how many people search online for small writing jobs so as to be able to pay for internet subscription to search for more writing jobs? Let me tell you the requests that writers rarely reply to….anything that has an entry fee attached and anything that does not pay…go to other forums and see writers struggling for 500 naira jobs…perhaps then you will understand not to compare us to the world…..what then is wrong in encouraging writers with a small token? Why would they not build in a writer’s cost into the whole Magazine’s project? I don’t see anything wrong in paying for someone’s effort

    Let us build our industry first to the height that others have attained then we might lie back and compare. I have said nothing wrong, I stand by what I have said, if I pay a least amount of N1,000 to 15 contributors, that is N15,000; that is a small dent in the whole costing…do you know how much it is to publish a magazine? N350 – N480 with 500 – 1,000 copies as the least quantity…please calculate and then add the graphic designer’s fee with transportation cost…we are talking over 500,000 naira and you think a small token is considered unfair because I said so….

    Mbok, let me go and eat; my lappie is about to die and I am even typing in the darkness. Don’t talk about magazine publication joor…I also was an editor of my school’s magazine; a writer and editor of another magazine here in Uyo and also about to publish mine…so I also know what I am saying…

    Aluta Continua!!!


    1. @Enoquin, a few points:

      I agree that while some people are motivated to write for the love of writing (myself included) and because they like the positive feedback they get, there will always be a limit to how consistently good the writing will be if there is not some monetary recompense that guarantees the quality of the writing.

      I think that it is easier for a writer to accept non-payment for work IF he can see that the venture through which his work is being published is not making money specifically from his content. This is the case, especially if the publisher behind the venture inspired by idealism or passion so that even if the channel is making money, the publisher is pouring it back into the venture. However, it’s another thing if the publisher is going to use the writer’s content in a purely commercial venture.

      Lastly, I feel a bit uncomfortable when I hear the phrase ‘encourage writers’. It makes it feel as if writers are some kind of charity case that deserve pity and kindness. Instead, what I would love to see is writers being paid because they have written something that is so compelling and engaging that publishers can sell the writing and pay the writer. (Even better, the writer can sell their writing and cut out the middleman.) Unfortunately, we’re not there yet (for reasons that have been discussed elsewhere).

      1. @TolaO and since we aren’t there yet, what then happens in the meantime. Good that you have an idea of how writers should be regarded…I have my own different idea. If I say encourage writers; I will equate it to encouraging SMEs in the economy that are just starting up. It is debts that make SMEs fold up apart from lack of careful planning; in the same vein, the lack of motivation monetary or otherwise could be detrimental to a writer.
        Like I said, the fact that you are comfortable writing with or without pay does not mean that all writers should be like you and does not also mean you should look down at your nose at those that do.
        Monetary compensation or otherwise, there are some writings that I will not undertake in, no matter how high the compensation might be. I actually told my sister once, that writing was one of the most noble profession and I stand by those words, still I also stand by my statement that writers should be encouraged.
        I rest my case

    2. @enoquin. When you read carefully all the comments here so far and even my own ‘epistle’ you will find that nobody is against paying writer. My only problem and the reason I wrote this re joinder remains the fact that you charged, tried and hanged Women’s Tale without asking any question. WT will not be in business of exploiting writers in any way. They will pay writers for sure. Bearing in mind that all the present staff are writers; if those staff get paid, can we still say they are trying not to pay writers? This magazine is not and will not be built around contributors and that is the reason why contributors to the first issue will only get a copy of the magazine (which should cost around #500, add that to the administrative and postage cost and you may end up with #800.) I will not say that is commensurate to the effort of these would be contributors, but it is not nothing. Nation and Daily Indepednent have not even given copies of their editions my pieces appeared in. Futhermore, immediately this magazine can stand on its own without donors’ money, the initiators have plan to pay for constitent contributors. That is why they expressly stated that their non payment policy for contributor is only temporary. A fact you unfortunately ignored.

      One thing I will like you to take away from this is that two cases are not exactly the same. Accusing someone because of the crimes of others is not charitable. That could pass for sterotype. ‘These expoliters have come again o’. You should have asked questions instead. You shouldnt have rushed to conclusion. You should also have been wary of distracting attention from the info on the page to your agitation. You could have set up a thread on the issue.

      I consider myself a true beleiver in freedom of speech and I strongly agree that you are entitled to your own opinion. But with every freedom comes responsibility. That is why we have all this libel, slander etc laws. You also do not have right to your own facts, and in this case you are wrong in your assertion.

      It was my call to respond to you through any medium of my choice. And after I’ve written this long reply/explanation, I do not think putting it on the announcement page will be good enough. Starting an argument on that particular page will only be in furtherance of the distraction you caused.

      Lastly, I agree with you on the need to build the industry. But the most important thing we need right now in Nigeria is more responsible and innovative publishing ooutfits. We need them badly. When we have them enough, writers can have more choice and more oppourtunities will come knocking. And I believe outfit like WT, our own NS need to be encouraged not unnecessarily or unjustifiably criticized. NS did not start our paying but today it is. I beleive if NS and other outfit of its like continue to grow and attract more advertisment, the payment for writers will certainly increase. Writers in the end will likely win.

      1. @layrite That you misunderstood me does not mean I should be responsible for that. If I had the time and sat down to write a re-joinder, we will simply go round and round without achieving anything. The fact that you mentioned NS is a point against you because I did not join the forum when they started paying but before they did and that should be regarded as a freebie writing; the reason why I like it here is because I get to meet and interact with ‘other’ Nigerians…potential and established…again, that you read all the comments on that post and came back to write a rejoinder that mainly had my name…leaves a lot to be said….

        (Comment 1:enoquin: In my opinion…people should always try to give participating writers a small token…the idea of always looking for volunteer writers will not encourage ‘the writing industry’ that is if there’s even one yet.)

        (Comment II: enoquin: …wait for the magazine launch and you will see the money that will be spent on the launching…Please oh, I am not trying to discourage anyone…but haba…more dignity should be ascribed to writers abeg!)

        (Comment III: enoquin: …Are they not paying for the magazine or the design? So why can’t the ones that will provide the content i.e the authors get paid too…)

        Read that with an objective mind again. Again I am responsible for what I write but not for what you understand.

        1. Actually, you started the discourse @enoquin. So, thats why this reply has your name. As far as I know I have nothing against you and I certainly did/do not misunderstand you a bit. You may however try again to explain your position and justify why Women’s Tale deserved your reaction. Your whole reaction was based on what other has done and you did not try a bit to get enlightened on this project; you just assumed and slammed a brilliant work of equally young writers like yourself and in the end caused a damaging distraction. Turning the announcement page to some kind of campaign and drawing attention away from the important information on the page is to say the least inappropriate.

          A re joinder to mine will only make the discussion more interesting and richer. And that would be good for literature.

          The point is you were wrong about Women’s Tale. Simple.

          1. Then @layrite….suit yourself and kindly ‘free me’ joor. If you are waiting for a rejoinder…you are on a loooooooooooonggggggg thing. There are sweeter things to waste bandwidth on than on e-war….so once again FREE ME!

            Oh? That was my opinion and I stand by it; I cannot help it if you do not like it.

            1. lol.

              @enoquin… I think we can say ‘we ve reached an impasse’.
              Take care… I hope we can agree some other times. Such is life. No hard feelings.

  4. Hmm, this is certainly some rejoinder. Felt some flare in the talk. I was nearly wondering why it had to be put till I saw the editor’s note.
    Well, it made for some good read and gave a good idea of the whole issue at hand. I think that sometimes for the growth of literature writers should pay some price. I am glad also to note that the magazine would pay eventually.
    @Enoquin has done great in raising all the comments she did. Layrite, you tried in your response but biko, next time cool your tone. It sure didn’t sound so friendly. Best of luck to the young minds behind the project. Let me know what help we can volunteer when we can. Cheers.

    1. I agree @sueddie, I could be forceful few times like this in my argument. I was just pissed off. But now I don cool my temper.

  5. Hmmmmm….I can only say this,a writer’s effort must be appreciated.

  6. hehe, Na wa o! Make una chill o!
    @layrite please , next time you post this kind of venture spare a moment to give the back story BEFORE it gets misunderstood. Many of us were just alkuding to the new trend of requesting free submissions online, not necessarily the post in question. I believe writing is work. It can be done free but for a specific reason eg to support a worthy cause(like this one) or to assist the less priviledged. That said i frown at anything that wants something for nothing, come on, even the single copy of the magazine needs a letter of request. Writer’s remuneration has been on my mind all week. I ask myself how much are my words/works worth? Till i can answer that, i will ask that you be more tolerant of the views of others. There is venom in this rejoinder and you know what they say about carrying fire.

    1. @nicolebassey: Carrying fire.. the best solution is letting them out. Not suppressing them I got ya point sha.

      Asking question about this particular project would nt have hurt, would it, instead of outright conclusion.

      And your word worth a lot. Just keep writing. Shakespeare works are still making money today five centuries later.

      At the end we are all fighting the same battle; we just need to be more careful with our approach to avoid casualties due to friendly fire.

  7. @enoquin, you didnt make one single sense, because of your tone.
    @layrite, if you want to beg for contributors, beg well, dont start sounding like you are doing any writer a favour. If you need it so much, you have hand, write your chick lit.

    Writers are gods, they are prophets. The true prophets consider it an insult to be paid.
    But in this world of man, a body has to earn an income, this is why some writers condescend to getting paid for their work.
    I would write everywhere, and in anything for free, if i do not need money. But i do need money to survive, especially as all i do is writing. But i do not need ”encouragement” to write. I will write with or without pay. If anybody is making money from my writings, i should have a share in that.
    As it is now, i can pity some website or magazine and send them my wrtings for free. Writers are gods. Na condition they cause all this insults!

    Meanwhile, if you have any site that needs my writings, holla at moi. ff @kc2031uzor on twitter. If they cant pay at least they should get me publicised, and get readers to my blog

    1. @kaycee If saying, I stand by what I previously said does not make any sense…I would have to agree. Everyone has a right to their opinion…everyone are little gods in their own right…you can write for free…I can write for free if I ‘decide’ I want to but neither you nor I have the right to look down our noses at those who will not write for free.
      I rest my case!

    2. Oga @kaycee… ooookkk I de beg now.

    3. And this is from someone @Kaycee who would say that some of my comments are like posts in themselves!!

  8. This post was not necessary.
    Contributor copies to be given on request, Haba!

    1. @osakwe: I will prefer counter argument instead of one liner-judgment like statement. That would make te discussion richer. Do you disagree with my post? Tell me why.

      1. You replied to someone’s comment with a whole post. It is ridiculous. This is not the first time someone is making a comment like that to a call for submission. I personally said something similar when an NGO made a call for submission and a second group that I can’t remember now. People just explained their position with a reply not a post. I mean for crying out loud- a post!

        1. A reply or response is what it is no matter the medium. Like I said earlier it was my call to respond via any medium of my choice. And after I had written this long reply/explanation, I did not think putting it on the ‘announcement page’ would be such a good idea. Starting an argument on that particular page will only be in furtherance of the distraction and digression caused by the comments I was trying to reply to. It was a matter of choice, @osakwe. With the response this has raised, I do not think it was such a ridiculous idea. And I’m not aware of any rule or ethics against that. For crying out loud, people reply to a sentence in a speech with a whole page advertorial in national dailies!

          Thank you for your opinion. Its good to always have one.
          Peace. Out.

  9. I believe that both of you are right and that there is no need for arguing.
    @enoquin, you are right in the fact that writers should be paid when possible.Artists are usually taken for granted and just because they are artists doesn’t mean that they don’t eat. Nobody would get meat at the butcher and expect walking out without paying. Writers should be respected in their profession like anyone else.
    @layrite, you are right in the fact that there are circumstances where the purpose is more important than anything else.Giving a voice to women who have been abused is more important than any retributions to the writers. They have to be admired for trying to put this together,considering how hard it is, emotionally and logistically and considering their young age.
    I am probably older than both of you and I am a mother.I can see where both of you are coming from and I urge you to not fight. Writers need to support each other and NS needs to be a family.
    Take care.

    1. @jefsaraurmax: Thank you, ma’am. And I couldnt agree more with your last sentence: ‘Writers need to support each other…’ as well as your other points.

  10. this is very healthy for the writing industry in naija- maybe we should have a debate in the open someday to really air our views. its not easy to come up with concepts then merge them into cohesive sentences. so i believe its good to encourage those who are willing to write with some sort of stipends. well this is just my opinion. i must say kudos to naijastories for creating this platform it is achieving its purpose.

    1. Thanks for dropping by. And you have some very valid points, @mikeefa.

  11. get known and then you’ll get paid without asking.

    Writers are gods, they are prophets. The true prophets consider it an insult to be paid.
    But in this world of man, a body has to earn an income, this is why some writers condescend to getting paid for their work. – kaycee

  13. I like that Kaycee’s line tho, this argument is very healthy.. more of it.

  14. Let me just sat this and dare whoever is angered: Any young and unknown writer that seeks payment instead of recognition is not worth the calling. For me, the joy of being read and known where my better, who do not write, can be is my main joy.

    Money and payment comes after you have proven your mettle.

    1. i am not angered by your comment becos its the reality. i agree with you instead.

  15. Hmmm…complex turf. I agree with some points from both sides of the war. But let me say that, the question of remuneration is largely a matter of CHOICE on the part of the writer. If you feel the exposure you will get from a publication is not a good tradeoff for payment then you have a choice of not responding to its call for submission. If you feel you have come to a level of literary maturity that justifies your desire to be paid, then you have a choice to only respond to calls for submission that would put money in your pocket.

    In addition, I don’t think we have gotten to a point in the literary industry in Nigeria where we can take it upon ourselves to actively fight for remuneration for writers. Why do I say so? Too many Nigerian fledgling writers–and I mean many–struggle to just have their works read by an audience. To have their works appreciated enough to be in print. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a magazine calling for submissions without the option of payment. What would be wrong is if the writers are not appreciated in one form or the other: a personal mail from the editors of the magazine to the each contributor thanking him or her for their input could be more than enough in some cases.

    I reiterate: it’s all a matter of CHOICE. No need fighting wars for people who don’t require the fight on their behalf, in the first place.

  16. Hmm. It has been one long tiring read, and although both parties have stated clear points, I’d like to quote two of my mentors to express my opinion on dis mata. Alilaba once said: “A career should and must be able to provide fufillment, security and comfort”. Dean Koontz in one of his famous writing tips for new writers said: “Writing for free would be my greatest sin”. I refer you my fellow gods, to d parable of the talents. I will not say much there, but I am certain we all understand how futile, how foolish and how deplorable it is to cast pearl before swine.

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