What I’m reading: Late Wife by Claudia Emerson
What’s on the iPod: Better Together by Jack Johnson
I have a guest post up over at About Freelance Writing. Give it a look when you can.
Oh, if I had a nickel for every lousy job offer I’ve come across, I’d have more money than the jobs themselves pay. This beauty comes by way of our very own Hugh McBride, who tweeted this knowing the dual emotional response it would cause me. It’s a perfect starting point for this week’s worth-inducing kick in the pants. If you’re going to learn how to discern good work from bad work, let’s do it together.
Here’s the hilarious, yet tear-jerking ad:
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Freelance job, chick lit fiction writer for hire, payment: $3,000 for 70,000-word book (anywhere)
Need a work-for-hire writer (no rights reserved) to turn a completed, detailed book outline into an approximately 70,000 word book. Pay is $3,000 in installments. Time frame is flexible but ideally project will be completed in 3-5 months. Please email with any questions.
Let’s dissect. What’s wrong with this ad? I think it would be easier to ask what’s right with it – nothing. But since we’re trying to figure out how to choose better jobs, let’s figure out how to weed out the bad ones.
First thing – $3K for 70K words is not a good rate. Let’s assume you charge $100 an hour for ghostwriting (let’s call it what it is). That’s 33 hours of work. Sounds reasonable, but look at the word length. There’s no way you’ll write 70K in 33 hours. That’s under a week in “9-to-5” terms.
Second, it’s a ghostwriting project. You’re not getting your name on that cover. How do I know? You’re writing from someone’s outline, which means that someone thinks he/she has a fantastic idea and wants credit for it. And the words “no rights reserved” means you’re giving up everything, including credit, for $3K. Moving on….
If you’re ghosting, you should be compensated for your silence. Book ghostwriters generally charge in the ballpark of $20-25K, not $3K. That’s because it’s not always easy taking someone else’s ideas and turning them into saleable copy.
Third, payment in installments on such a low-paying project indicates either A) an amateur who doesn’t understand how to work with a writer, B) someone intent on withholding payment as a form of control, or C) someone who’s going to stiff you at the end, thus getting the product for less than stated.
A better idea:
Need a pro Ghost writer
I am looking for a professional ghost writer to write a treatment from my narrative.
Must be experienced, professional, innovative, creative, however know what they are doing and have written, screen and teleplays in the past.
If your work has been published, or you have had a screen or teleplay bought and produced, you go to the head of the line.
Please ensure that I have your name, all contact information, and why I should hire you?
Please include your rate.
Why this may be better – This poster is using the jargon of the industry, so this isn’t someone who is new to writing and could be someone who has hired a professional in the past.
Also, this person is asking for your rate. That’s a big plus – the poster isn’t telling you what you’ll be making, but rather allowing you to set your own rate (as it should be).
That’s not to say it won’t be as disappointing as the first, but the odds are slightly better thanks to the reasons stated above.
Look at an offer you’ve received recently. How can you dissect it to find out the true value the job brings to you? And that’s important – the job has to benefit you, as well.
What have you seen lately? Did you take the gig? If so, how did it work out? Did you turn it down? Why?