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Suspicious of Job Offer

Active Member
Hi, I'm new to Odesk, and set up my account to get some jobs as a creative writer. I got a message from someone, asking me (quite cordially) to apply for their job. The message I received ran thusly: "Hello! I'd like to personally invite you to apply to my job. Please review the job post and apply if you're available. Stacey (not real name)" The job called for a thriller/sci-fi series of short stories (20-30K words each), with a budget of $350 being afforded for the first story, and subsequent work would depend on her interest in the first one. The application involved the submission of sample writings, an outline for the story and overall series and then providing an estimated turnover for each story. I was happy to receive the job, but wondered why I was chosen, considering I haven't done any work on Odesk and haven't filled out my work experience. All in all, I don't see how my profile was impressive enough to merit such an abrupt invitation to hire, though I did correspond with her and provided all she asked for. I then said I was "curious as to how this would be published, and what publisher company [she] may be working for". Her next message commented on the outline, providing some very general feedback, wrapping it up with "So I guess, I'll just click on hire and let's see where it goes? 🙂 " There was no acknowledgement of my query about publishing. And the somewhat puerile language and repeated use of "smiley faces" (several times) caused me some pause. I pressed the issue (delicately, I think), which got me this: "I don't really work with a company :) We are a husband and wife team and we publish and market stories mainly as digital books. You'll most likely see the series (when it's done) on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or iTunes. It will be under a pen name, though we don't have any qualms about you mentioning the work in your portfolio, as long as it ends there. If you don't have any other Qs, I can click on hire and you can start 🙂 " I might be paranoid, but I'm not sure I buy this. However, I decided to throw my cautions to the wind and told her I'd be happy to work for her. The following message I got was somewhat jarring, considering the correspondence we were having: "Hi Please review and accept my offer. Gracey" I got the impression that this was a stock reply, copied and sent to prospective contractors, but I don't know. I feel this client is extremely anxious to get me to start, despite my own admittedly lacking credentials. I don't feel like she has been asking adequate questions about me, or providing sufficient information about herself and her enterprise, whatever it may be. As I said before, I'm brand new to Odesk, and this would be my first job. I'm not sure how things go around here, but in my jobs out in the "real world", there was much more discourse in the interviewing process, so I just don't feel enough has been said by either party to warrant employment. I really could be over thinking this, but I'd like to know if there is any reason for me to doublethink accepting the job offer. Are there "false employers" who exploit Odesk "noobs" for some sort of gain? I'm too new to have any certainty for myself, but my Spider-sense is tingling... Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Jon
Community Guru
Hi Jon It is upsetting that no writers or more experienced members have answered you, so for what it is worth, here's my bit. I understand you apprehension - the good version of "why me?" - but the client has a very good history. She invited several freelancers to this job, so it may be an idea to check the other profiles to see how you compare; that may answer the "why?". The casual attitude could be attributed to the fact that they have 201 hires behind them and are used to (and comfortable with) hiring on-line. You do need to be wary of the fact that the "samples" could just turn out to be free work, and also bear in mind that they are offering 1c per word. Good luck Mandy
I did note that the client has what seems to me an exceptional work history, but it almost seemed "too good to be true." And I don't know how to access the profiles of the other freelancers, or her reviews either. I might be an idiot, but I'll try to access that information again. Is there any particular shortcut to said info?
Community Guru
The messages you got come from oDesk and are basically messages that everyone gets. I've gotten a number that have said the exact same thing. If you're happy with the offer, and got an upfront payment, you should have no problems.
Ace Contributor
Hey Jon. The offer you got seems legit enough. But there 2 things i can recommend you to do. 1. Ask for small upfront payment and milestone payments for completion of each part of the work. 2. As samples, provide only something publicly available. For example, if you got some of your previous works published on FictionPress, provide links to them or send them as text files. But let client know, that those were already made available to everyone and are non-commercial.
Community Guru
I don't understand why she has already desired to hire you if she hasn't gotten a sample yet. Is the job offer for the series of stories or for a paid sample? What do you see when you Google her name?
Community Guru
Everything about the interview is normal, she asked you for samples and other things, you provided them, she liked it and wants to hire you. The message - "Hi Please review and accept my offer. Gracey" Is what goes out to every contractor when an offer is sent, it is an prefilled form from odesk, a client can change it, but if she is an older client, it might just be more hassle than she feels like going through. Until recently, after an interview, she could just click to hire without this extra step. as for the information she gave you, that is also pretty normal. Just about everyone online that is hiring you to write, be it a book, story, or pain text is going to publish it some where either under their name, or under another name. there are a limited few that credit your work to you, but this is a work for hire marketplace, and credit transfers with the payment. Get 25-50 percent upfront, and congrads at getting a job so soon. In the future, you might want to go for more than 1 cent per word for such a long book.
There's some useful information you gave me there, so I thank you. My issue wasn't that authorship would be transferred; I understood that would be the case in writing for someone else. My issue was with the way she proposed to publish the work; I've never known that there was a niche for people to have ghostwriters supply work that they would then market themselves without the backing of publishing companies. It's so odd that I didn't accept it at face value. I didn't ask for any upfront payment, so I think I will now before setting off on a 30K transcript. Thanks again for your advice, much appreciated.
Because Alexander above provided advice about providing samples. If you have already done that and fulfilled all the other requirememts for applying, then I don't see anything wrong. Have you estimated how long the job will take you and converted to an effective hourly rate?
Active Member
I just want to know how "protected" I am if the client's payment method is verified. Like, if I don't get anything upfront, and I complete the job (30K words of sic-fi/thriller), is there anyway that the client can avoid paying me? I understand that if I flagrantly abuse the client's trust, like copy-pasting an obscenity for 30K words or something else that defies common sensibility, that I would not be entitled to anything, but I have every intention of doing the job well, so I'm wondering what the risk is on my end. If I do everything right, is there still a realistic chance I might not get paid despite "payment method verified"? If not, I'll just take the job without upfront payment. Thanks again for everyone's input, it's been really helpful!
Jon, the mere fact that you went here posting your doubts meant something doesn't feel right. Just go with the gut feeling and save yourself the worries - besides, there are other serious clients out there who may just pay you 100% upfront. I do get this type every now and then. And yes, shady clients will always try to find a loophole in the system so they can avoid paying you... won't go into the details; just read the rants on the freelancer page. Good luck 🙂
Active Member
I just would like to thank everyone for their input. I've got an upfront payment, and that put me much at ease. I was very close to foregoing the job out of fear of being ripped off. If it weren't for the advice I got here, I'd probably not have ended up accepting the job. Cheers, Jon
Glad to hear Jon. Good luck with the job.