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Straight Outta Craigslist

22 February 2012

Every once in a while, I pop into the Writing Gigs section of Craigslist. Not because I need the work — my day job keeps me plenty busy, and there’s the several hours of nightly writing, too. No, I check out these gigs mainly for entertainment value.

Check the above-mentioned section of your local Craigslist, and I bet you’ll find something like the following (which I made up):

GHOST WRITER WANTED

I have an idea for a book, and I need a writer to write it for me. No credit will be given, but you will be compensated up to $500.

Ads like this make me giggle. First off, no writer who can actually write, regardless of their financial circumstances, would consider writing a whole book for someone else for such a small amount. I’d hope none of them would consider it at all, really, but I know that’s unfortunately not true. What I really find funny, though, is the assumption that all you need is the idea for a book — the whole writing thing is just some drudge work to outsource for a nominal fee.

So you had an idea. Congratulations. That means there’s electricity running to your brain. Ideas are worth exactly fuck all unless you do something to execute them. Having an idea doesn’t mean you have a book — it just means you had a random thought. But don’t expect any writer to come and do all the work while you snatch up all the credit and the profits — we have our own ideas, and the will and the means to execute them. Put together a pitch with the idea, then learn to write. Then you know that the end product is yours.

And writers — please don’t indulge these people. I know financial straits happen, but work for what you’re worth.

So, what’s the most insulting ad you’ve seen on Ye Olde Craigslist? Which ones made you laugh with their misguided ideas?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 February 2012 1254

    I love the oDesk/Craigslist “I need 100 articles fast. $50 potential.”

    50,000 – 100,000 words for…$50. When I see things like that, I don’t feel bad blogging for free because it’s something I like, and it comes back to me in different ways. That kind of word count toward a blog, novel, or both…it earns out more than $50, and it’s far more enjoyable. (And you have the satisfaction that you’re not cramming a crappy article full of keywords to be thrown up on a site flooded with ads that will possibly result in someone smarmy enough to offer such an insulting job and rate making much more money than you’ll probably make on writing you actually enjoy.)

    Can you imagine going to a surgeon and saying, “I need open heart surgery and I’m willing to pay you $100.” Or telling a nurse, “Why don’t you work for free for me…you know, for the credit.”

    But I’m with you: as insulting as it gets is, “I have an idea for a novel and I’d like you to write it for me.” I’ve been approached by people wanting me to write for them, and just to toy with them, I ask about the idea.

    “I can’t tell you because you’d steal it!”

    Great way to establish that you’re going to be easy to work with if I WERE so inclined to take such a crappy deal. Besides, why would any writer crank out somebody’s crappy idea for next to no money when they can invest the time in at least a CHANCE of something more with something that’s actually theirs?

    • 22 February 2012 1306

      Very much indeed so, sir. There’s very little reason to write anything but what YOU want to write. Article- and content-mills like those you mentioned bother me, too — write a bunch of articles for peanuts! Or worse, no money, but build your portfolio!

      The sad thing is that there are some writers who must be doing it, or these people would stop trying.

      Now, co-authorship is a whole different animal, and one I’m generally positive on… but that’s probably a post for another day.

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