East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Working for amateurs


One of the most unnerving things…
Oh, hello! You’re here!
This is one of those posts about the incredibly funny and surreal experiences of one that’s trying to make a living writing – a marketing guru guaranteed I’d get tons of likes and followers by telling you these stories… so!

One of the most unnerving things of working as a freelance is the clients that do not pay you in time, but then point out it’s extremely unprofessional on your part talking about it and pointing your finger at them.
What a horrid lack of class, mentioning money like that!

The first time it happened it was almost ten years ago – I worked through the Christmas period on a very important and very urgent translation, and then the publisher simply did not pay. They ignored my calls and my mails. It took me sixteen months and the intercession of a friend of my father that works in credit recovery, to finally get my sixteen hundred euro. Of course at that point I had already defaulted some payments and my bank was out for my blood, and I had to sell a painting, that was my one heirloom from my mother, to avoid other consequences.
The publisher pointed out that it would have been extremely unprofessional on my part to mention their name publicly about this matter. They did not say anything about the professionalism of sending a guy with a baseball bat to their offices, on the other hand.
Then they went belly-up, burning a 40.000 euro hole in the pockets of their latest partner.

Right now I’m in the same situation, with a twist: my client is not paying the latest translation I delivered, but just hit me with 17.000 more words to translate, urgently.
They appeal to my professionalism.

And professionalism is exactly the crux, here.
A lot of these people happen to be small publishers or indie authors and have an alternative source of income – they or their spouses hold “real jobs”, so that when I call them and I say “Please, I delivered the work, now I need the money because I need to pay my internet provider”, they basically cannot conceive the thought that I actually have only my work to pay for my expenses.
They, after all, have a real job.
Haven’t we all a real job?
Come on, man, where’s the urgency? LOL! Use your salary to pay those bills!

Being a bunch of amateurs, they cannot conceive the needs of a professional. And yet, they appeal to your professionalism.

So now here I am, in free fall.
I’ll keep you posted, as long as they don’t shut down my internet access.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

6 thoughts on “Working for amateurs

  1. This problem plagues people in our profession. It seems a lot of people think writers should be happy to just work for “exposure” or because they derive a natural pleasure from writing, which is its own reward. And while that can be true, and exposure is important for writers, we would never expect people in other professions to work just for the love of it. Can you imagine telling your doctor you can’t pay them, but you’ll spread the good word? Or telling your plumber that you thought he just liked working on pipes!

    I hope you get your money. You deserve money for services rendered, especially if that was in the contract.


  2. That guy messed with a lot of professional lives, and I know what I’m talking about!


  3. Just happened to make payment and add a bonus after you made some noise? Wow, you’re right, what a coincidence…….. :-/

    Maybe he should just learn to pay his debts on time and not complain about people he owes money to making what he considers to be declasse’ comments about him.


    • The environment here is very fragile.
      As long as there’s people giving away their work for exposure, we’ll never get nowhere.
      On the other hand, if you’re good and they need you, sometimes they just need a little push to behave decently.


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