“Well, O.K, this one is going to be published” said one of a Indonesian magazine (We name this magazine Stepping Stones for now) editor to me this week, and that’s a good news. I finished selecting the pictures, so with the writing, and it’s a travel feature from my trip a while ago. Now I am the last phase of the work; seeing the things in the newstand. But wait, since I know this editor quite well―however, this is going to be the first time my feature story getting published in Stepping Stones―I forgot to ask about the going rate.
Yes, here, now we’re talking about money. “This is how much you’re going to be paid, and we always pay everyone at the same amount” the editor said. And I was shocked, almost collapsed. I won’t tell you how much, but it was much less than I used to get in the other publication. It was less enough to make you stop dreaming of becoming either a contributing writer or a photographer. And what I also took into account, this is a decent magazine.
Some people tend to disregard what we’re actually doing, whether intentional or not, and that’s a bad news. These people are seemed born to this world, and out of nowhere, find themselves appointed as an editor. The bad one.
There’s a saying ‘if you want to be rich, then stop being a journalist (writer, photographer, or whatever)’. It’s bad, but it’s true. When I started few years back, money was the last thing I ever thought about. I need it so I could go on traveling, which more often I need to do something else too, let’s say wedding photography that I still do it frequently. And when you find an editor who put you on the edge by those tiny sum (even giving it for free will be better), it’s truly disgraceful. Nothing worse than that.
What’s worse is things won’t end this way. If I agreed the rate in the Stepping Stones (Let me tell you again, it’s far away too low), it’s not only me who’s going to suffer. Next time, there will be other fellow contributors submitting their works, and for sure they will be paid the same amount (or a little bit more if they are famous). We’re killing each other, and I don’t want it happens.
Of course, there are still so many good publications as well as good editors out there. They realize what kind of things we’re facing on the way. And what is most important, they realize that the relationship between them and us is mutualism. They know their publication won’t be interesting without good pictures and writings. And Us, we need to publish our work so we can continue living, wandering around and…(you fill this for whatever your reasons are). This kind of editors are willing to discuss everything, including an agreable fee. And a relief always they are.
I finally prefer to cancel my publication with the Stepping Stones, at least for now. Period.