Freelance Favors for Friends

Good job with your response to that email! I totally agree with you. Dawn wasn’t being selfish – she is just being smart by not letting her friends run all over her, and by recognizing that friends who would take advantage of her aren’t real friends at all.

Katharine S. Leppert


Hi Angela,

I loved your response to Lisa in the Freelancing for Friends debate in your November 15 newsletter. You made perfect sense to me — as you said, “friends” who continually impose on your time and talents are not really friends. You don’t owe them anything for free — occasionally is fine, but constantly never.

Thanks for a great newsletter. I look forward to it every week, and always get so much “free” inspiration from it. 🙂

Hugs to you and all the family, John


Hi, Angela,

I tuned in on the ‘Freelance Favors Debate’ this week–a bit late, perhaps, but still worthy of additional comment. I believe that the entire discussion highlights a subtle problem that bedevils all writers–the ‘Anyone can write, but not anyone can be a plumber [doctor, lawyer, astronaut, etc.] syndrome. I first encountered it eons ago, in a different skill area. In undergraduate school, I majored in Speech (with a theater emphasis). People–mostly lay people who may or may not have finished high school–generally spoke mockingly of that fact when it was revealed (only under their interrogation) that I was majoring in that esoteric field: ‘We’re born able to speak–you have to go to college to learn that?!?’

I believe that writing as a profession is seen in the same light — unless we happen to be Tom Clancy, Stephen King, or some equivalent big name (‘big’ usually being measured, of course, in megabucks). Journeyman writers who have no big name visibility are like speech majors–anyone can do that, so what’s the big deal? I’m just asking you to write my resume (thesis, job proposal, publicity release, whatever) because you do stuff like that all the time, so it’ll be faster for you. Of course I could do it, but I have real work to do…’

My experience, too, has been that it’s never friends who ask me to do such things but, rather, acquaintances who have just recently met me and see a sap to be used to cover their own weaknesses. The last time I had such an experience, I simply told the person my estimate of the cost of that work, because I AM a professional writer. Never heard from her again.

There are times when I will work for free. I’ll do it for community projects that my wife and I undertake within our own neighborhood, where there is no organization, and no budget, but a good cause. And, of course, I will work for a family member–which usually involves editing a reasonably well-written work just to ensure that no obvious errors have been overlooked (and I can always count on them to do the same for me). But I will not work for exploiters. My plumber (and it is a good company) charges me to come out, whether there is a serious problem or not.


Kevin Murphy Author:
Degrees of Murder:
Something Bright and Alien:
Unfriendly Fire: based on the “1937 Memorial Day Massacre” at Republic Steel Company, Chicago–available from author Web Archive: