A Beginner's Guide :: Literary Commissions

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Hello everyone! ResonantCrimson here. I've decided to give this guide a complete overhaul due to having a heck of a lot more experience than I did when I first updated it almost three years ago and when I first wrote it a while back. 

If you're looking for help on pricing, we wrote a guide on it as well! You can find it by following this link -> fav.me/d94aojg

The Important Things

When you're considering opening commissions, there are a few things for a person to think of before offering their talents to the public. The two biggest questions to ask yourself are: Why am I opening up commissions? and How much enjoyment do I get from writing? The second question may seem odd to ask, but hear me out.

Why am I opening up commissions?: This question should be a fairly obvious one to ask, but some people may not think about the why when it comes to starting their journey of doing literary commissions. Let me say now that every reason is valid when it comes to why you want to sell your skills. If you need money for expenses of life, or you want money on the side to commission others, whatever your reasons are, there's no bad why. Your reasons are yours; you don't need to go in detail with others why you've decided to open commissions. However, ask yourself why you want to write for others. Bills, unexpected expenses, to commission others? 

How much enjoyment do I get from writing?: This should seem obvious, but if you've lost the drive to write, and think commissions may rekindle your flame, this may be a gross misunderstanding. If you don't possess a love for what you wish to get paid for, your clients will see your stories don't contain as much passion and dedication as they should, and thus will give their business to someone else. Believe me when I say you can tell the difference between a story the author put their heart into and a story they wrote because they got paid for it.

Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses

When you want to sell your writing, ensure you know your strengths & weaknesses. There's nothing wrong with being weak in writing certain things, but if someone comes to you with a request to write one of your weaknesses, the polite thing to do would be to decline the request.

Why would I decline a commission?, I hear you say. Let's go back to the point above of the difference between a story a writer put their heart into and a story they wrote because they got paid to do it. This is the same for writing your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses. A client can tell when you've written something you're not strong in and see the difference between a subject you're strong in and one you wrote because you got paid to do it. 

This doesn't mean you can't improve on your weaknesses. What do you do when you want to get better at something? That's right, you practice! Writing is a craft that always holds room for improvement; if you wish to get better at writing a certain subject, practice it until you're confident in your ability to write it. 

Don't Force Yourself

If you're having an off day and can't bring yourself to write a commission you've gotten, that's totally okay. Everyone is allowed to have off days and need time to do their own thing, whether that's write their own story, play a video game, spend time with a friend or family member, etc. But on this note, there's one important thing no writer should ever do: Leave your client in the dark. If you're unable to write that day or for a few days, always be sure to tell your client what's going on and let them know their story will be delayed. You don't have to go in details if you're not comfortable diving in the why, simply saying something along the lines of: "I'm unable to write for x amount of time, please be patient with me. I'll get back to your commission as soon as possible," is enough. 

I've seen so many scammers in my time of running this group, it honestly disheartens me. If you took a commission and find yourself unable to complete it, I implore you to be a decent human being and refund your client the money they paid. 

Cherish Your Client

This person chose you to spend their money on. Treat their money as if it was yours. Don't leave them in the dark when it comes to their story. They wanted you to write their piece, they trusted you to bring their literary dream to life, and so, as the writer, value the fact your client chose you out of the abundance of others to write their story. As I've said, I've seen so many people take advantage of their clients, and to be frank, it disgusts me. (All offense intended.) 

Final Remarks

If you wish for more information to help you start doing literature commissions, you're more than welcome to note me! I'll get back to you as soon as possible. You may also join our Discord (link on the front page), a chill place where writers, commissioners, artists, and narrators come together to chat about general things, writing, commissioning, and all that fun stuff. 

I hope this guide was useful to anyone who was wondering about starting commissions!

Updated 11.29.2020 
© 2013 - 2021 Writing-Commissions
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7Royal7Clover7's avatar

Okay so, I heard that you can't write about officially licenced characters, e.g. Steven Universe, Cuphead, Crowley, etc. However, can you do people's OCs, even if they belong to a fandom?

ResonantCrimson's avatar
The subject regarding fandom commissions is sketchy at best. Everyone I know who's done fandom commissions never got in trouble for it. I think, honestly, they don't care as long as you aren't making huge amounts of money for it. And huge is in the hundreds of thousands I believe. Think of it like this: they don't care if you write a story regarding a licensed character and get 50$, but if you make a whole movie and get 200,000$ for using their characters, then they'll care. But it's up to the person themselves if they want to do fandom commissions. Personally, I've done them before and never had an issue, but now I'm backing away from them because I want to specialize in original fiction.

BUT to answer your question, as far as I know, you can write about fandom OCs since they aren't a licensed character. Again, though, the topic of taking fandom comms is one people have discussed for years, and with my experience, I've never got in trouble for writing them. But it's up to you if you want to take them or not. :'D
DuskSpiral's avatar
I offered commissions to do FGO fics for 200 points, but no one is taking it. is 200 points too high a price?
ResonantCrimson's avatar
Definitely not! I charge 1,000:points: or 10 USD per 1,000 words for my commissions, and I get takers quite often. I would offer more than just one fandom and advertise yourself more. :) Good luck!
DuskSpiral's avatar
I'll make a note of that.
MaybeJustOnce0's avatar
Is it possible/legal to set up a PayPal if you are under 18? I’d like to start writing and taking commissions, but I’m wary of the legality of setting up things like PayPal and potentially eventually Patreon. Thanks! 

I got my paypal when I was 16, it doesn't ask for more information than your phone number and email to set up.

ResonantCrimson's avatar
As far as I know, you have to be 18+ in order to set up PayPal.
MaybeJustOnce0's avatar
Bummer. Thanks for your reply, though!

EclipseWhispering's avatar
To be honest, as a "younger" deviant with dreams of writing, I find myself wishing to charge deviant points than actual USD for art commissions. Before I set up my sheet and all, should I do this? Random question but I rather get opinions then plunge into the pool head first. 
ResonantCrimson's avatar
There's a lot of people on dA who would rather points instead of USD, so I'd say go for it. :D 
ResonantCrimson's avatar
Of course! Sorry for the late reply btw, comments and such sometimes get lost in our notifications. D:
EclipseWhispering's avatar
Oh it's fine! Cya around I guess~
COOL1nate's avatar
I just recently got a PayPal account and am looking into whether or not I should start literature commissions. This information helped quite a bit. I'm going to continue researching to find out what my pricing would be if I do decide to open commissions and whether or not this would be something I'm interested in doing.
ResonantCrimson's avatar
We also wrote a journal on pricing if you're interested. :) But good luck with figuring everything out! 
COOL1nate's avatar
I'll be sure to check that out then. Thank you!

Also, it really depends on how much free time you have to write, a lot of people look for written works around 5,000-10,000 words. You can make good money, but it takes up a decent chunk of time

ResonantCrimson's avatar
SiRenfield's avatar
I might consider doing this via Venmo/PayPal
Nebula-Shepard's avatar
Should I open a Personal Paypal or a Business one for this?
ResonantCrimson's avatar
I'm using a personal Paypal and it's serving me well. I don't have any knowledge on business ones though... so I'm not the best person to ask. o3o;;
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