Friday, January 30, 2015

Ah, Freelancing

I'm new at this, so you experienced freelancers out there should bear with me if I'm painfully naive, but I was quite tickled by this "offer" I received for a freelancing job (from a list I subscribed to).
I'm seeking a writer for an ebook about an international space expedition that becomes lost in outer space. The series will be a serial (meaning it will take several ebooks to finish) and will follow this expedition as they: become lost in space, struggle to return earth, and then finally reunite with their loved ones on Earth. Typical science fiction elements will be involved with the story as the expedition will come across alien species, habitual planets, etc. The story will predominately be about the adventure, but the companionship between each of the astronauts will be largely incorporated.
Up to this point, I'm mostly just amused, if slightly appalled that someone is so confident that they can commercialize the creative process quite this far. As if good, profitable sci-fi were as simple as plugging specified elements into a basic plot with standard sci-fi tropes. I dunno. Maybe it is that simple, but my experience with talented sci-fi writer friends would suggest otherwise. If you want quality, that is. Maybe my true naivete is that I rather expect ANY producer of ebooks to want to make them GOOD ebooks.

Then the advertisement keeps going, and I realize I'm wrong.
A "simple" understanding of science fiction elements (aliens, space, etc.) is preferred for this story, but not necessary. Newbies are highly welcome (as long as you understand grammar).
Yeah... no. Simple understanding of the complex vacuum of space? Simple understanding of the possibility of alien life and how that alien life could develop in a different environment? Etc? And, the kicker: IT'S NOT EVEN NECESSARY. He'd be just as happy with someone who might have heard of Star Wars once, but never saw it. And the solicitor "highly" welcomes newbies who understand grammar. I... can't... even....

But there's more....
I'm expecting a delivery of 7 days (1 week) for the finished project and if achieved before the deadline, I'll gladly double the pay. In terms of the length, I'm looking for about 6,000-10,000 words.
6,000 - 10,000 words in a week.  With a double-pay bonus if that goal is met. (More on that later.) Let's forget about the pre-writing for a moment and pretend that the entire plot of the multi-ebook serial just comes to the chosen writer in a dream. Let's pretend that the dream included specific plot arcs that would span 6-10,000 words so that you're getting a complete mini-story in each book. Let's acknowledge that any writer who has completed NaNo or who is making a living at freelancing is very used to this sort of grueling pace, and can churn it out at that speed.

But let's also acknowledge that 90% of writing is rewriting and that, if these books are to be GOOD, 7 days is utterly insufficient to meet that goal. 7 days is enough time to create a first draft, perhaps, but first drafts Are. Not. Publishable. Or, they wouldn't be, if "Publishable" were universally synonymous with "Quality." Which, apparently, it isn't. And that's a darn shame.

It goes on:
The ideal candidate will be able to/have: -Microsoft Word (any edition) -Understand the Subjects/Genres -Writing Skills and Style (you should be able to write coherent and engaging sentences). What I expect: -The Word Count to be Met -An Engaging e-Book -Coherent, Competent Sentences -A Simple Understanding of the Subjects/Genres If you're interested, please submit an example of your work. It doesn't have to be supernatural or space oriented, but needs to show competent writing and grammatical skills.
Well, I'm an ideal candidate, then. I have MS Word, understand the genre, I'm able to write coherent, engaging, coherent (coherent seems important), and competent sentences... oh, wait. He wants engaging AND the word count met. Yeah, guess that counts me out.

But let's look at all the money I'll be turning down, shall we?
The Pay is $20. I'm looking to commission several more e-Books, so further work will be possible for those interested.
$20. For a week of constant work. Even assuming that the writer can write 1,000 words in an hour (hard to maintain, but I've done it during NaNo), this solicitation is offering to pay $20 for 6-10 hours of work. That's (pulling up my calculator....) $2-3 per hour. With the chance of doubling to $4-6 per hour if I meet the deadline, edit nothing, and turn in the sort of drivel I'd be ashamed to have my name on. Goody!
LEGAL: All rights of purchased work will belong to me.
Which is exactly as it should be. #yougetwhatyoupayfor

Please, fellow writers, don't ever let someone pay you this little for your work. Even ignoring the fact that there are freelance projects with a base pay quite a bit higher than this, don't ever undervalue your work so much that you do it for nothing.

If you're writing your own book, that you will OWN, and that you and your heirs will hold the royalty rights to forever, it doesn't matter if you never make enough on sales on that book to pay more than $2 per hour for all your work. You'll have your sales and you'll also have your book, and that's more valuable in experience and pride than quadruple what this guy is paying.

Freelance writing is honorable work, and you don't need the rights to every word you've ever written--but this guy is trying to capitalize on a writer's hard experience to turn a quick buck for himself while cheating the writer of a fair wage and the reader of the quality of work they should be able to expect. He's a snake-oil salesman looking for children to work in his sweat-shop, and I have no respect for him.

Have any of you seen scams like this?


  1. Replies
    1. Amen. There are no words, are there?

      Much less 6-10,000 of them for $20.

  2. Did you ask him what a "habitual" planet is supposed to be??

    One of my friends, when starting out in freelancing, accepted an assignment to write a complicated document of about 20,000 words in two weeks' time - for $20. She asked me about it and I told her the terms were highly ridiculous, so she backed out.