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Barbara's Virtual Pen

Tests Are for Students, not Professional Editors and Writers

It's becoming too depressing to hear about the increasing number of people out there in cyberspace ready to offer phony freelance work. At this point I have received so many e-mails regarding scams I think I see a pattern. There appear to be two types, and some people who are scammed are well aware of it while others actually may not be.

The first, and more obvious, one is an offer of work, an inquiry in very poor English. Often, too much money is offered, particularly in light of no vetting. You can almost do no wrong, as they keep assuring you, "I want you.” It would be more accurate to say, "I want your money" because that's what they're after, and those of you who have been approached may know by now that the game is to declare they are sending you a very large check, and you need to send part of it to someone else, since it is more than the "agreed upon" fee for the gig. Some people believe the check they've been sent is good because it looks very good. In fact, it would take weeks to bounce because it has a legitimate bank routing number as well as a real account number. Not theirs. People get taken as soon as they send out that requested check---the good one!

The more subtle scam is to seek writers or editors (as many as possible), informing them all they must first write a two-page article or edit a chapter. The point is that the work is divvied up among the many people who have responded or who are contacted. If you agree to do the "sample, that is the work. I know of several people who actually kept contacting the person about the "real" work that was supposed to be coming. But they already did it! Just this morning someone contacted me out of the blue to write an article. I was asked to select from a list, given guidelines, etc., and they told me that regular work would then flow in. I was feeling kind of annoyed, so I responded that I was a professional writer and as such always worked for a fee.

The point is that in today's world most of us are "out there." We have social media pages, Web sites, blogs, and certainly sample work that can be shown. There is no reason for an experienced writer or editor to do a "test" or a "sample." Even in legitimate companies I believe only someone who doesn't know how to hire would dream of asking for such a thing. I have to say that in thirty years of doing this, I have never been asked to do freebies for any project. Long ago, sometimes we were told the work was conditional. But all the writers (or editors) were paid for all work done, even when it was unacceptable. When I was a project editor in several places, that was always the way it was. If the work of one of the writers or editors was unsatisfactory, that writer or editor was still paid but never used again. We always felt it was unfair to not pay them for their time, no matter what we thought of their work.  Read More 
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