Friday, December 17, 2010

A Dime a Dozen

This one resonates with most freelancers I know. I've been lucky (or choosy)--I now work only for companies that pay me within a month at the most--but I did write off a couple of thou owed to me by the notorious Inkwell, a company now in litigation with a fairly large group of freelancers in a class action suit. I suppose I could join the suit, but the thought makes me tired.

I have, a couple of years ago, gotten into a fight with a company that refused to accept my invoices because they have a (non-binding) line at the bottom that says "Please add 5% to bills not paid within 30 days." Apparently, using a line typical of plumbers and electricians is hurtful to publishers and their middlemen; I was told in no uncertain terms that my services were not needed and that the company, built from the bottom up by the speaker and her husband, "takes care of our freelancers." Much the way, I'm sure, that plantations once took care of their field hands.

The suggestion that freelance writers are a dime a dozen and that thousands are champing at the bit to take one's place on whatever measly project might be dangled in one's peripheral vision is an implication that publishers have perpetrated for years. When folks complain that American education isn't what it used to be, they might consider that you get what you pay for. If the best of us are turning down crap wages and refusing to work for companies that are nonchalant about on-time payment--as my listserve suggests that we are--the people writing many of the nation's textbooks are what's left--first-timers, untrained writers with no experience in the classroom, and hacks.


Anonymous said...

What confuses me is how -- and why -- this differs from common thievery. Keeping money from someone is not that different from taking it from them.

Anonymous said...

The difference is, we allow it.