Hi writers!

I’m Manjula, and I’ve been your driver here at since I founded the site on a whim in December 2012. Since then, Who Pays Writers has received hundreds of reported rates, thousands of awesome followers, and some pretty decent press, too. Thanks for reading and reporting. Who Pays Writers plans to stick around for a long time. But, as tends to happen here on the Internet, some changes are on the way.

Who Pays Writers is becoming part of Scratch

Scratch is a new website and digital magazine I’m co-editing with the amazing Jane Friedman.

Scratch is all about the intersection of writing and money. We publish smart and useful stories that give writers the information they need to advocate for themselves as workers. The idea for Scratch came out of some of the feedback y’all have given me about Who Pays Writers: Transparency is great, and information is great, but so is context. Scratch is that context.

Scratch premieres today with a preview issue full of interviews, features, and personal stories about the economics of being a writer. We’ve got big names, we’ve got non-names, we’ve got somethin’ for all kinds of writers. There’s also a blog, for interesting articles and links like the ones I sometimes post here. And there’s a section just for Who Pays Writers?—all the posts, a search page, RSS feed, truly anonymous rate submissions, and more functions on the way.

This is all very exciting, I’ve been working my ass off on it, and I encourage you to read it and talk about it and ask questions. This is really meaningful project for me and Jane – it is business, and it is deeply personal.

However, it also means Who Pays Writers isn’t going to be a Tumblr anymore.

I have mixed feelings about this move, but here’s why it’s a good one:

So, wait, what website do we all look at now to find out who really pays writers?

Here’s how it’ll work: I’m keeping this Tumblr live for a few weeks, so folks can read this announcement and ask questions and get used to the idea. Then, it’ll go away and redirect to the Who Pays Writers? section of Scratch. The Twitter account, @whopayswriters, will stay put and post new rates as always.

Sooo, is Who Pays Writers monetizing?

Nope. But Scratch is a subscription-based magazine. The preview issue is free, but starting in January 2014, it will cost money to read the articles in Scratch—$20 a year. Subscribers will be able to sign in on the website and also get issues through an app (courtesy of the geniuses at 29th Street Publications).

You can subscribe here if that sounds like something you’d be into. We’re having a sale until January 1. You can also donate, or just buy me and Jane a drink:

All the blog posts and other non-issue content on are free to read. That includes Who Pays Writers.

Let me make this very clear: Who Pays Writers will always be free of charge to read and search. Always.

I have had some offers to “monetize” this data or to “partner” with vaguely intentioned start-ups, but I strongly believe that hiding this site’s information behind a paywall or subscription fee is… well, it’s kinda fucked up.

For me personally, starting Scratch is a way to try and create a (slightly) (potentially) more sustainable outlet for the time and labor I spend on Who Pays, while keeping Who Pays open and free. It’s also a way to jump in the pool and try to see what the future of digital publishing—specifically magazines, my very first professional love—feels and works like. And of course Scratch will be transparent about how we’re working along the way. We even have a regular feature called The Transparency Index, which is what it sounds like:

So, that’s the news. Ch-ch-changes. I hope you follow this amazing collaborative project known as Who Pays Writers over to Scratch. And check out the free preview issue; in it, I interview Jonathan Franzen and talk to street vendors about haggling, and Jane translates contracts into plain English. Plus stories by Cord Jefferson, Susie Cagle, and more rad contribs.   

Thanks for reading, for reporting your rates, and thanks for writing.


P.S. - Yes, Scratch pays writers.

P.P.S. - Yes, the new typeface is much easier to read.

Vintage Life Magazine

Report: “Doesn’t Pay—will give you an advertisement” in exchange for an 800-word feature in 2013.


Report: 10 cents/word for print, nothing for web “unless it’s commissioned/short deadline/urgent.”

[RELEVANT is a Christian publication for “twenty- and thirtysomethings.”]

Strange Horizons

Report: 30 dollars for a poem in this weekly online speculative fiction magazine (2013)

Kiwi Magazine

Report: $500 for 600-word department feature in this parenting mag in 2012. “Pays 60 days after publication, so you’ll be waiting awhile.”

Vanity Fair, circa 1992

Blast from the past: A writer reports recurring assignments for pieces on pop culture/ “hip new things” at $2 a word for 150-300 words. “Aahhh, the good ole days.”

Report: $50 for 250 words in Picks section. “Check came quickly.”


Focus Fine Art Photography

Report: “Was offered 10 cents a word for a 5,000+ word interview/profile piece in 2013. Didn’t take the gig.”

Village Voice

Report: $50 to $75 for music blog Q&As in 2012. “Delivery of payment varies wildly.”


The Believer

Report: $300 plus a subscription for an interview (2013)


A note on the experience of being edited:

"I feel like I’m underserved in terms of editing and that the importance of good editing is (short-sightedly, stupidly) being minimized by a lot of publications. I write for [a certain publication] whenever I can because it pays well, but I hate that I get no substantive editing. I want to continue to grow as a writer, and a big part of that is editors pushing me or showing me a different way to express something or just poking me with a stick. As a freelancer, you gotta eat, but you also want to feel like you’re getting progressively better."

Global Post

Report: $1,000 for a 3-5 minute video feature (shot, edited, written, and voiced) in 2013.



Report: $75 for a 1200-word feature. “Thoughtful edits, which is nice.”


San Francisco Chronicle

Report: $150 for 800-word op-ed in print and online, 2013. “Quick payment.”

Washington Post (Outlook section)

Report: $250 if it runs inside, $500 if it’s on the section front.