This provocative question, which has plagued editors since the Epic of Gilgamesh was first chiseled into clay by an underpaid flunkie, may now be settled once and for all with this scientific quiz written by (full disclosure) someone other than me. This (literally) poor soul is so afraid to lose his paltry freelance income should the offending editor ever Google his name and find this incendiary post on the web, that it can only be published on condition of anonymity. Please feel free to disagree or commiserate as your own personal experience as an editor or ink-stained wretch dictates. Enjoy!!
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After driving just over an hour to pick up a check after I had been called AND sent an email by the Genius at Accounts Payable (at a firm that shall remain nameless) to inform me that the check was ready and waiting in the reception area... guess what: the check was not ready and would not be for two more hours! So to pass the time, I wrote this little quiz, to see who passes it. Those who do are destined to burn in Hell forever.
Pop Quiz: Are Freelance Writers Even Human?
Let’s settle it, once and for all! Simply choose the best answer…
When you ask a freelance writer to give you FREE ideas to expand/grow/provide material for your business…
a. He or she is incredibly flattered and will happily devote three or more hours to help you achieve all the success you so richly deserve, just because you are you! Besides, that is why they are called free-lancers.
b. A selfish freelancer will be unreasonably upset. This is because he/she is operating under the outrageously erroneous belief that ideas are his currency and, therefore, you are asking him to provide free services (LOL! This is a joke answer).
Freelancers are all independently wealthy and work for the sheer joy of it, so there is no need to pay them in a timely fashion. Or at all (see above).
a. Exactly, and this is why paying them should remain an afterthought, if that.
b. It's been rumored that some actually work in order to meet their financial obligations and/or eat (Another joke answer!).
As a business owner, pro bono work is a highly altruistic endeavor that enhances your image in the community and should be carried out by…
a. Freelancers! They are more than happy –in fact, they are ecstatic– to devote whatever number of hours is required to fulfill your commitment as a philanthropist. And they would not take a penny for it, so don’t insist!
b. Your in-house staff, who can take their (paid) time to assist you in this noble endeavor. (Yeah, right?).
If a freelance writer has the audacity to call your office to inquire about a payment that is late for, oh, only the third or fourth time, you have the right to:
a Speak to him/her in the superior/disdainful “how-dare-you-bring-up-filthy-lucre” fashion that he/she deserves. He/she will feel like a lowly dawg! Understand, they don’t always realize that this shows supremely bad taste. Money should never be brought up in business!
b. You should (giggle, giggle) apologize, look promptly into the matter (ROTFL) and resolve the issue asap. (I know, it’s too funny, right?).
If a job that has been sitting on your desk for two weeks suddenly becomes urgent, the reasonable thing to do is…
a. Call your freelancer in a panic, telling him or her to DROP EVERYTHING! because the client needs an immediate turnaround. Then act unpleasantly surprised if they explain that they charge a "rush fee".
b. Assign it to your freelancer, never pay extra, and once the work is completed, let it sit around the office for a couple more weeks. To marinate.
Because freelancers do not spend four out of eight hours away from their desk hanging around the water-cooler, checking and updating their Facebook page, having animated conversations with their colleagues, playing video games, conducting furtive office same-sex affairs and looking for another job…
a. They are not as valuable to you as your in-house staff. Duh!
b. There is no other possible response to this statement.
Freelancers should never, under any circumstances whatsoever …
a. Be invited to an office party, receive a Christmas gift or (gasp!) be awarded a bonus. This could give them the always wrongful impression that they are, in fact, valued members of the human race.
b. As above.
Let us say that you finally wrote that book that had always been percolating inside you, itching to explode into the world. Before you submit your work to the public and to the cruel-eyed critics, you should…
a. Have your freelancer read/edit/proof/correct/translate/improve/critique your opera prima. There is nothing he/she loves more than curling up with your 300 page manuscript and learn all about your teenage angst and your struggles as you climbed the corporate ladder.
b. Ask your freelancer how much he/she would charge you for this “favor” but, of course, this is “just pretend”.
Never, ever, under any circumstance, raise your freelancers' fees because…
a. This just encourages them to eat three squares a day, and everyone knows that writers need to stay lean & hungry to produce their best work (for you, of course).
b. Besides, they don’t even know the cost of living goes up.
It's good to dangle the promise of The Next Job over his/her head. This not only keeps the freelancers' fees comically low, but it also…
a. Fuels their hope, and hope is the last thing one should lose.
b. Does them a favor while amusing yourself at the same time.
If you decide to arbitrarily reduce a freelancer's fee, it's best...
A. To not issue a warning, as this could get him/her used to respect and consistency.
B. To announce at the same time that you're taking a posh island vacation that weekend*
*This actually happened to me. My fee was reduced by $300 because "funds were low."