By Daniel R. Epstein @depstein1983
Tomorrow, October 1, marks the official launch of Here’s the Pitch: the IBWAA Newsletter. For the past week or so, I hope you’ve enjoyed our “soft launch,” which included incredible writing from our editorial team as well as a reasonably passable piece by me.
Sharing a Ballpark for the World Series, by Brian Harl
A “Mets-rospective”: Reflecting on the Mets’ 2020 season, by Elizabeth Muratore
Expanded Playoffs Preview: Redefining “Good” Baseball, by Daniel R. Epstein
Bluntly stated, I believe you should pay for a subscription to this newsletter. The brief version of the sales pitch is that we have hundreds of IBWAA members looking forward to sharing their perspectives on the broad world of baseball with you. Subscribers will continue getting content six days per week from outstanding, independent baseball writers who will expand your knowledge into corners of the sport you haven’t yet discovered...
...But that’s not why you should subscribe. The content alone will be worth your while, I’m sure. However, your subscription allows us to pay the writers and editors for their labor— in fact, that’s where most of the revenue goes. Whether or not that ends up being very much money remains to be determined, but it will have a far greater impact than merely a budget line item.
I began writing about baseball in March 2017 at a blog run by people I met in a Facebook group. In my first post, the “math” projected the White Sox to win 364.5 games that year (here it is, don’t laugh). With heavy promotion (read: begging), that post eclipsed 50 views, which would be my high-water mark through October of that year. Regardless, I was completely in love with writing and committed to keeping it going at least once per week.
Honest feedback is hard to come by. I wrote all through the 2017 season, but I never really knew if any of my articles were worthwhile. It was personally fulfilling despite the lack of readership, but at some point, I needed to know if I was any good at it. The editors seemed to like my work, but were they just patronizing me? If I was exposed to more readers, would anyone care about my words? Was I a complete hack, essentially writing a baseball diary for my own eyes only?
These questions nagged at me to the point that I applied to write for bigger sites. A few rejected me and more than a few didn’t respond whatsoever, but two sites offered to bring me on, and inexplicably, one of them offered to pay me! I wrote my first paid article that November, earning 77 cents. In retrospect, that’s about what it was worth— I spelled “Arizona” wrong in the headline!
The size of the paycheck didn’t matter. The validation of receiving even a microscopic deposit meant the world. In my mind, I was legitimized as a writer at last. That was all I needed to keep writing, and I haven’t stopped since. If not for 77 cents, I wouldn’t be managing the IBWAA today.
Fair compensation is a hot topic for me. My “I quit!” piece in which I tantrumed off of Beyond the Box Score this past December juxtaposed inequities in MLB compensation with that of baseball writers. It’s probably the best piece I’ll ever write, and I remain honored to have been nominated for a SABR Analytics award. (I lost— deservedly so— and became both a loser and a quitter with the same article!)
I’m not a professional writer— I do it for love, and any money I make is a gift— but I left a coveted wiring gig because I couldn’t tolerate a billion-dollar corporation pinching pennies with their talent. As it turned out, I landed in a much better position anyway, and I’m thrilled with the writing platforms I have now. I even learned how to spell Arizona! Still, one of the primary reasons I wanted to run the IBWAA is that I believe the writing community warrants respect. So many of us put our whole soul into this work for no other reason than love. Such talented, giving people deserve to be uplifted in every possible way.
That’s the real purpose of Here’s the Pitch— not mention everything else the IBWAA does. Whether it turns out to be 77 cents or something more substantial, your paid subscription lets our writers know their words are valued. It’s an opportunity to work for pay without feeling like you're selling your soul. It’s an encouragement to persevere. It’s a message that yes, we should continue to spread knowledge and enjoyment of the game we all love.
Subscribe entirely for your own reasons! That’s great too. You will enjoy original, one-of-a-kind content from a different writer each day. Some of them undoubtedly will expand your baseball horizons. A few will become your new favorite follows. For that alone, I feel we’re worth it. It’s an investment that will pay dividends for you as a reader and will be invaluable for the writing community.
If you’ve ever cared about my words— in this post or anywhere else— thank you! It’s a privilege to write for you, but it’s an even bigger privilege to introduce you to your next favorite writer. With your help, we can pay them a little bit closer to what they’re worth.
Daniel R. Epstein is the Co-Director of the IBWAA. He writes for Baseball.FYI (subscribe for free), Baseball Prospectus (subscribe for money), and Off the Bench Baseball (no subscription required). He co-hosts Baseball Writers: the IBWAA Podcast (subscribe to that too— for free— in your favorite podcast player).