What’s on the iPod: Ants Marching by The Dave Matthews Band
What I’m reading upstairs: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Another uber-special moment yesterday brought to me by the IRS. I have to give them credit – they’re exceptionally nice on the phone, and their letters have lost the judgmental attitude I once received. A few years ago, they chastized me for not using an electronic program to figure my taxes. Ironically, I had.
This time it was a miscalculation in two areas – education credits and child tax credit. It did seem too good to be true, but I’m a writer, not an accountant. And here’s the kicker – I received two notices, apparently (though one has yet to arrive). One was a recalculation based on their error. You read that right. The IRS made an error. What’s more, the woman on the phone with me admitted to it and apologized for it. It’s why I can’t hate them entirely.
The damage is minor this time. I’m getting better at the calculations. Here I thought I’d get it right this year. Ha! Stay in writing and editing, Lori. Math ain’t yer thang….
A writer friend and I were discussing recently a project he’s working on. He completed it per the email from the client. Imagine his surprise when she changed the parameters entirely, now thinking for that same smallish sum, he’d just rewrite the entire piece because she thought it would read better this way. Imagine her surprise when he turned her down.
Given the almost doubling of the project word count and the lack of any additional payment, I think he did exactly the right thing. The temptation is to push back on payment sometimes, but in this case he said it was clear this was going to be more of a hassle that might require several rewrites and payment debates.
It typifies an attitude in some organizations and associations that adding on to the project or deciding it wasn’t what they wanted in the first place means tough beans to the writer who’s already done the work. Not so. You as a contractor have either a formal or informal written agreement (email saves us more than we think). You completed the work as discussed. If the client was unclear, it’s up to the client to pay for that lack of clarity in order to get the project right.
Maybe it’s because the current corporate mindset is to pile the work on to the skeleton crew that’s already overworked. The everything-for-nothing attitude is seeping into our freelance world. Maybe this changing of mind and project scope is fine inside a salaried environment, but freelancers are not required to fulfill a corporate-style role. It’s like this – if you were paying a plumber $10K to install new sinks in the restrooms, he’s going to install new sinks. He’s not going to install new toilets, stall dividers, hand dryers, etc. for that same price just because you decided it would be cool to have everything upgraded. You’re going to owe him more.
That’s how it is with freelance writing services. If the client asks for XYZ and get XYZ, but then decides they didn’t really want that but thought FGH would be much better, that’s a new project. If the client decides he’s not paying because he’s changed his mind, that’s his tough beans now. If you the writer completed the job as outlined, you’re owed money.
Have you noticed any increase in clients expecting additional work under the same contracted price? How have you handled it?