There are many legitimate opportunities for writers. So, before I begin my story, I want you to know that it is not intended to scare anyone away from their passion.
I have written as a ghostwriter a few times and usually the contract that I enter into is held with respect by both parties. In this instance it was not. Watch out for scammers that will literally steal your work!
Here’s the scam that got its dirty little hooks into me.
I signed up for an account at a well known writing website, freelancers.com. As I was sifting through several opportunities (most of which were probably good opportunities) I found one that involved writing a ‘self help’ guide for married couples. The pay was not very great but the job didn’t seem very difficult, either.
The biggest red flag from the start was that, after I agreed to work with him on freelancer.com the author told me that he would prefer to work together off of the site because they are, ‘a hassle.’ I never should have done that! Now, I actually owe freelancer.com for the commissions they charge when jobs are accepted.
I worked out a contract with the “author” (a.k.a. employer) to receive a payment after I finished an outline for the work, another payment after it was half completed, and the last (and largest) payment when the job was fully done and accepted.
Along the way, the author and I stayed in touch through our editing process. Typically, he did not request changes, he just said that it read exactly like he wanted it to. If you aren’t aware, that’s pretty much every ghostwriters dream. It’s often difficult to nail the voice of the author. Red flag #2 – dream’s coming true!
I thought, “Wow, I have actually landed an easy gig here!” Total: $500 for about a 1-2 weeks worth of part-time work. Not bad.
Now comes the good part.
After submitting the first half of the modules for this marriage guide, the employer stopped editing it with me. Hmmmm…how many flags have we gathered so far?
He would only ask when the next module would be done. At this point, I have been paid $150. It seemed kind of weird to drop the editing process. So, I decided he just liked my work that much. After all, he had already paid me some money. Why would he not pay in the future?
I finished the book, trusting I would receive payment since I have already received the first two payments. He stopped contact with me altogether. He never told me that the work was bad, he simply never replied to many emails or Skype messages. At this point, this ‘author’ had actually run off with my work! I was so upset!
The moral of this story is – never accept jobs from “unproven” employers. By unproven, I mean people who are just random employers posting jobs online, without a track record of paying freelancers. Sites like freelancer.com, iwriter.com, odesk.com, and others do have legitimate work to be done but I recommend avoiding any employer that is new to those sites. If they are “proven,” the site will have a list of writers the employer has actually paid.
There are much better ways to write and get paid what you are truly worth.
Sam Priddy, an Engineer for a medical instrumentation company, has published several online articles, some poems, and a short story (which was published before he graduated from high school). Sam is also working on a few novels, hoping to release one of them upon the world soon.