Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Good Lesson for High School Kids?

Shortly before the Content of the Year award was announced by Yahoo! Contributor Network, I was contacted by a member of the editorial staff at Pearson Publishing's Brazil office. Pearson wanted get permission to use an excerpt from one of my articles in a high school English textbook.

It was the same article that I had been told was about to be announced as the Content of the Year winner. The Pearson editor told me that they had sent the request to Yahoo!'s permissions office, but had not received a reply. Because the article was licensed exclusively to Yahoo! Contributor Network, only Y!CN can grant reprint or usage rights such as those requested by Pearson.

I replied to the editor letting them know the situation and also forwarded the request to a contact at Y!CN to try to make sure it was seen by the right department. A few days later, the editor from Pearson Brazil let me know that they had received approval from Yahoo!'s legal department to use the excerpt from my article.

So as of the release date of the next edition of 'Hyperlink' in Brazil, my work will appear in an English text book written for native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese. Remembering my own foreign language classes, I can picture a room full of high school kids debating the greater meaning of the article in accented English. "What was the author's opinion of Jake Reilly's experiment?" the teacher may ask, hoping that the students can infer from the subtleties of my specific word choice and phrasing whether I was sympathetic to Jake's self-imposed hardships.

Interview Finds Continued Popularity Through Social Media

This article remains one of my most viewed pieces at Yahoo! month after month, even a year after it was first published. It isn't a particularly popular search topic, and it isn't written with SEO in mind. The traffic it receives must, therefore, be based on the content and concept of the article itself. It appeals to the imagination and emotion of readers and makes them want to share it.

It was shared tens of thousands of times through Twitter, Facebook, email and other social media, and I'm assuming that the continued traffic comes through blog links and social media mentions. It can be found on search engines, highly placed, but only for very rare search terms that one might use if they had heard about the topic previously and were actually looking for the article.

At some point, it came to the attention of the editorial staff of a textbook company in Brazil who thought, for those same reasons that it would capture the imagination or at least hold the attention of high school students learning English.

Payment for Textbook Usage?

For those who maybe curious, I am not getting paid by Pearson for the use of my material in their text. While I generally (always) insist on being paid for my work, I chalk this one up to good will, despite the fact that Pearson does sell its texts for profit. My work will be helping kids learn. It's my first appearance in a textbook or any printed book, to my knowledge. I'll use the credit in my writing bio. This particular article is already my highest paid writing effort to date, having earned me thousands of dollars in royalties (with more coming in each month) plus another thousand for winning Content of the Year at Y!CN.

Writing for Free?

As a general rule, when asked to write something in return for the exposure and without other cash compensation, I decline and have even been known to ask the person who proposed it if they would like to wash my car in exchange for me touting their car washing skill to my friends. So far, none of the people asking me to work for free have been willing to work for free. Go figure.


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