Thursday, December 13, 2007

When writers screw other writers

No, my title is not a reference to Kathy Kehrli's Screw You! (one of my favorite blogs, incidentally). Rather, it's a reference to when writers intentionally screw each other over.

I received an email today from a fellow writer, one that I once almost worked with on a project we both got through Writerlance. We both had serious misgivings about the client, and the two of us (along with one other) backed out. That was a year ago.

This writer apparently put me on a mailing list, because today I received an email about a current project the writer was hiring for. I clicked on the link, more out of curiosity (and trying to figure out who the heck was emailing me) than anything else, and found this:

Budget: $30-100

I need 10 articles completed by Saturday, 5pm, Eastern time! This is an urgent project, and please only apply if you can complete them by tomorrow for sure!!!

If you have any doubt about completing them, please do not bid. Place your bid for 10 articles by tomorrow. The articles need to be 750 words long.

You will get the complete details once chosen and I need them submitted to me by tomorrow. I am on Eastern time.

I can pay a total of $30 for the project. If I find a writer that is reliable there will be plenty more work in the future with varying payments. = )

The project itself pisses me off, of course: Ten 750-word articles for $30 is bad enough, but a rush project too? Yeah, sure, let me spend my Friday night working my butt off for your measley thirty bucks!

The fact that it's a writer posting the ad infuriates me even more. Even if webmasters don't always understand why paying a writer peanuts for professional work is wrong, another writer ought to know.

No doubt she signed on for too much work, couldn't finish an assignment, but still wanted to keep most of the income.

I hope her conscience keeps her up at night.


Michele said...

This is a funny and sad post at the same time! Funny because I can almost see the steam coming out your nostrils through blog land and sad because you're right. Another writer should know better...

I got an email yesterday. This person contacted me through my website. At first glance, I thought that it was an article for a topic I'm interested in and even though the offer was pretty low... it was just ONE article. WRONG! On second glance it was closer to TWENTY articles at that LOW price. What? I had to take off my glasses, rub my eyes, and put my glasses back on and stare some more.

I'm not a bold, rude person, so I merely emailed them back and told them their offer was too low for one article--much less as many as they wanted!

*Shakes head*

Katharine Swan said...

Oh, I was steaming, all right.

I am not always very restrained about these things. I've been known to email people and tell them that their rates are insulting to professional writers. I don't turn into a ghetto b!tch or anything -- I try to be reasonably professional about it -- but I still give them a piece of my mind.

However, that depends on how busy I am. This week has been crazy-busy and -stressful, so I just don't have time to start a wage debate (read: email argument) with someone.

Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

Oh yeah, it's a thousand times worse when it's coming from someone who knows precisely how much quality writing is worth. Screw her!

Lori said...

That would piss me off, too. Is she kidding?

Katharine, I've taken people to task in email, too. I've sometimes sidled up to it ("I wanted to clarify the terms - I'm sure you meant $30 per article, for $30 for all of them would be less than $1 each, and that's just silly."). I've been blunt - "Are you kidding? Do you understand McDonald's pays more for less experience?"

There are just some people in the world who won't ever get it.

Katharine Swan said...


Somehow I knew you'd say that. ;o)


I've tried both approaches too. Those clients usually fall into two groups -- those who respond with fighting words, and those who don't respond at all. Honestly, I think they usually already know their rates are unfair, because I've never once had one write back and say they didn't know that, or thank me for enlightening them.

Personally, I think the blunt approach is more likely to get an angry response, which is great if that's what you're going for. I know sometimes I am, depending on how insulting I found the ad or the client.

Unknown said...

Hi Katharine! I came on over from Deborah Ng's post on the subject from your comment. Wow. For it to come from another writer - like you say, EVEN WORSE. I hope she suffers writer's block! ;-)
Happy new year and thanks for sticking up for writers.

Katharine Swan said...


Thanks for visiting! I'm glad you liked (and agreed with) the post, and I hope you'll visit again sometime soon!

Anonymous said...

I have limited anger to spare for this sort of thing. I gave up on the eLance and jobs-through-message-boards scene a long time ago. I saw people scrambling to earn $50 for long features. It felt like the only people placing ads were for cut-price website-stuffing articles. I see they are still busy on Ezinearticles.com.

So if people are willing to play that game, and write articles for $7, it's their problem. Leave the real jobs for the real writers.


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