Getting published usually means getting paid for your work. Getting paid is a good thing, even if you’re “not doing it for the money.” At the very least, it’s some validation your writing is actually worth something. To further illustrate my feelings on the subject, I’ll quote one of my favorite authors again:
“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”
— Stephen King
Note, all the info I’m going to present in this post is based on my experience publishing short stories in the genre market. It may not apply to the literary or the non-fiction markets, so if you write in either of those, this post may be of dubious value to you. Just saying.
How much you get paid when publishing short stories in the genre fiction market depends, of course, on where you publish. Some publishers pay nothing, some pay a little, and some pay all the way up to 10 cents per word and more. As you can imagine, it’s tougher to get published by the guys paying 10 cents per word.
From my experience, there are four basic tiers of payment in the genre market: exposure only, token, semi-pro, and professional. Only the first and last are clearly defined. The two in the middle are a bit of a mixed bag.
Now that we’ve talked about what you might get paid, let’s talk about how you might get paid. Many semi-pro and pro markets are quite happy to send you a check, but nearly all the token markets and quite a few of the semi-pro markets prefer PayPal. In fact, some will only pay you through PayPal. So, if you don’t have a PayPal account, get one. It’s free, it’s not difficult to set up, and you can often use PayPal funds like a debit card or simply transfer the money into your bank account (though it takes like five business days).
You should also keep track of how much you’re getting paid, via a spreadsheet or accounting software. If you make over $400.00 in a year as a freelance writer, you have to claim that on your taxes, so you should definitely keep track. I’m not a CPA, so you shouldn’t take anything I say about taxes as gospel (I could easily be wrong). Susan Lee, EA, CFP, on the other hand, is someone you can and should listen to. She offers a ton of useful advice for freelancers of all types on her site FreelanceTaxation.com.
Got more info on reaping the vast riches from a freelance writing career? Did I post something factually inaccurate? Tell me about either in the comments.