Monday, February 1, 2016

RidiculAd: Is asking a prospective client “what’s your budget” a mistake?

I received an email message with a one-word subject line “Hi” from someone with a non-English name, perhaps South Asian. My immediate instinct was to mark it “spam” and delete it, but I opened it anyway. The message was from someone that could be a prospective client, who asked if I would be interested in editing and improving flow of a 4-page, 1,500-word write-up of his research consisting of an abstract, methods and results. From his writing style it was clear that English was his second language. The message wasn’t written well, and there was no identifying signature to tell me who he was. However, there was another message from him in my inbox. Evidently he came across my profile on LinkedIn, and wanted to connect with me.

From his LinkedIn profile I learned that he was a postdoctoral research fellow at a Canadian University, originally hailing from India. So I responded to his message, and told him that I could help him, and gave him a rough estimate of time and cost. It would probably take me 6-8 hours, maximum 10, to revise, improve flow and make the abstract readable. That would include 1 revision. I also told him that because he is a postdoc, I would consider helping him at a reduced fee from what I usually charge my clients.

He responded immediately, asking if I could give him a further discount. I asked him to tell me what is his budget, and I will see if I can try and work within it. Without hesitation, he responded "$100". I immediately wanted to respond, but then decided that the best response would be not responding…

Perhaps I should have followed my initial instinct, and marked his message “spam” and delete it immediately. And, no, I did not accept his invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

RidiculAd: Forget low clients asking for volunteer medical writers

Today I came across a position advertised on Indeed. The advertiser: The Wilderman Medical Clinic in Thornhill, Ontario (a suburb north of Toronto). Position advertised: Medical Writer Volunteer.

The ad read:

<<<<start of ad>>>>>

"Medical Writer Volunteer
Wilderman Medical Clinic - Thornhill, ON
Excellent written and verbal skills are mandatory!

Volunteer position description: We are looking for someone to assist in writing articles for our medical magazine. You will need excellent written English skills as well as an ability to quickly learn and adapt writing style as required.

Other requirements:
Team player
Post-secondary education is essential
Excellent comprehension and communication skills

You will be working along side a very bright and motivated team. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please submit your resume to Indeed. We do not accept telephone calls or walk-ins relating to this posting."

<<<<<end of ad>>>>>>

So I responded. No, I wasn't applying for a Medical Writer Volunteer position after over 10 years experience as a medical writer. I told them that even student interns get paid to work in agencies, clinics, etc. Even entry-level writers need income and deserve compensation. I told them that I found their ad offensive, and asked them if they volunteered their medical services to the public. Shame on them! No response yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

RidiculAds: Low pay, high volume and fast turnaround, and low pay

No, it wasn’t a typo. I meant to say “low pay” twice... at the very least. Recently, a colleague found these RidiculAds on a jobs board she subscribes to, and according to her, the only reasonable response by a self-respecting writer or editor would have to be "Are you kidding me?" 

RidiculAd #1. Experienced scientific / medical writers to research/write articles (1000-3000 words) for a scientific encyclopedia. Rate: $0.05 (5 cents) a word plus a credit in the publication. Conclusion:  $150 for a 3000-word article.

RidiculAd # 2. Contract editors to work with authors who are non-native speakers of English. Research experience (studies conducted, papers written/published, papers reviewed, etc.) plus at least 10 years of copyediting and substantive editing experience in academic publishing required. Must commit to editing at least 60,000 words per month on short turnaround times. Rate: $10,000 to $12,000 per year. Conclusion:  60,000 words per month adds up to 720,000 words per year, which at $12,000 per year works out at ~1.6 cents per word.

RidiculAd # 3. Editors for 1-page PDF handouts on health and wellness topics. Rate: $3 per page. A quick review by a colleague of a few sample handouts the client supplied, revealed a sloppy writing and/or editing of these pieces. Conclusion: You get what you pay for.

RidiculAd # 4. Experienced writers wanted to produce health, diet, and cookbooks. A typical project takes 80-120 hours to complete and pays $3,000-$3,500. Fast turnaround expected (~35,000 words in no more than 3 weeks). Conclusion: If one gets paid $3,500 for 120 hours of work, that would equal to $29 per hour.

These jobs offers diminish the highly skilled craft of writing and editing, but unfortunately they exist.  Writing requires thinking and creativity, and not simply churning out a high volume of words in a short time. Unfortunately there are jobs out there that pay even worse than these do. What’s even more unfortunate, is that there are the writers willing to accept these rates for their work. As long as these writers, who don’t seem to value their craft, are willing to accept such job offers, these offers will continue to exist and chisel away at the integrity of our profession. It’s time to say “no, thanks!”, and run, the other way.

Credit: Thanks to Eleanor Mayfield for drawing my attention to these bad job offers

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RidiculAd: Curriculum writing Budget: Less than $500

I am looking to design the early learning curriculum.I am trying to focus on brain enrichment side of it.It should include inter active games,fun learning and cater towards the early learning from 1 to 6 years of age,i.e Science,Math,Reading,Writing,Social studies,ethics,behavior,making right choices,etc.
RidiculAd comment: NO COMMENT!

RidiculAd: Writing 10 journal articles $1k-$2.5k

Title:Writing 10 journal articles (ID: 993777)
I am looking for a medical writer to fully write 10 critical reviews (journal articles) of the literature (PubMed/Medline) in the following areas: Sclerostin in trauma and orthopaedics...
Category:Writing, Editing & Translation
SubCategories:Articles & Press Releases,
Skills:articles,articles & press releases,engineering,management,materials,medical,reviews,tissue engineering,writing,
Budget: Fixed Price$1k-$2.5k
Privacy:Private: Invitation Only
Project closes for quotes on:


RidiculAd comment: 10 critical reviews (journal articles). Each review would require extensive literature research of the PubMed database. In real life, each review article would take 60-100  hours. If a professional writer charges a modest $100/hour, then each article (including literature research, revisions, etc) should cost at least $1,000. Ten such articles, would be ten times more...i.e. $10,000!!!! At least. Do the math!

RidiculAd: Literature Review Budget - Fixed Price: Under $250

Title: Literature Review (ID: 988853) 

Description: I have a literature review of about 41000 words, I would like it to be rewritten and condense it to around 25000 words. I need it by the end of October 2013. This is for journal writing. 

Subcategories: Academic Writing 
Skills: academic writing, editorial writing, literature review 
Budget - Fixed Price: Under $250


RidiculAd comment: Wow! $250 for rewriting and condensing 41,000 words to 25,000...REALLY?

RidiculAd: Social Studies Content and Test Editor Hourly Rate: $0 to $20

Title: Social Studies Content and Test Editor (ID: 989148) 

Description: We are looking for a freelance editor to help create the TExES Social Studies 232 7-12 Teacher Certification Exam study guide. You can view the standards on
Skills: academic writing, test 
Budget - Hourly: 10-30 for 1-4 weeks 
Hourly Rate: $0 to $20


RidiculAd comment:
Never mind a measly $20 per hour. Who wouldn't want to work for $0 hourly rate?