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I got one of those requests I hate this evening. It starts something like this...

"I wrote a childrens story..."

What follows AFTER that is a blustery plea of `can't you draw me something, but you do it so fast, it doesn't have to be anything complicated...' and me trying to explain that I am really busy, I have no time and that's nice that it's for your grandmother's 90th birthday (or something) but I don't really have the time to work on a project...and it IS a project like that for free.

It always makes me uncomfortable and like a scrooge and that I am `withholding my talents,' and I'm sure it makes the other person who then says maybe they could pay me fifty bucks or so...(to illustrate a children's book?!) (No, like I said, you can do it really fast and it doesn't have to be complicated!) (It took me over 20 years to be ABLE to create something like that `really fast,' ARGH!) feel really bad.

Do people call dentists or accountants for free services? And why is it it seems to be only church members who put me in this oh so uncomfortable situation?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 21st, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
You need business cards and then hand them one and hand-write your hourly rate on it. And say your fee for a children's book is $1,000 or whatever. Be all wide eyed and nice about it. heh
Mar. 21st, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
No kidding!

That's a really good idea actually.
Mar. 21st, 2007 05:31 am (UTC)
Except that then the soliciting person asks, "Oh, yes, that's your normal price, but what is your price for members...?" I got that reply once.

My rule for working with members is: Charge Them Full Price, Or Else Give It To Them For Free.

Incidentally, the Art Directors' Pricing Guide suggests a fee estimate of $1000 per illustration for a children's publishing job. This figure varies, of course, depending on media, size, etc. But if you figure that your typical children's book consists of, say, sixteen pages, and that you have to also estimate for the cover illustration, it is not outlandish at all to quote $18,000 as an illustrator's estimate for such a project.
Mar. 21st, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
Just as fun as the ones who want your services free or dirt cheap are the ones who have "always thought of being an artist/writer/singer/dancer" as if it's sooooooo easy.
Mar. 21st, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
Oh yeah no kidding.

I bet that happens to you all the time!
Mar. 21st, 2007 02:25 am (UTC)
I think I get it more because I'm a memoirist. And it's true that many, many people have fascinating life stories that deserve to be told -- but that's only 10% of writing a memoir, you know? They don't know about the years and years of sharpening your skills, and learning to edit, and sending out query letters and submissions, getting rejection after rejection -- well, shoot, YOU know.
Mar. 21st, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
I don't have the illustration problem, but I do have the "please read me stuff and tell me you love it" or "hook me up with yr buddz" problem. If I can get them to listen, I try to break down what I will be doing to their work. Perform a ruthless grammar/copy edit? Check. Check your ideas for cat-sized plot holes? Check. Point out that the characters are all the same person -- the writer's mother? Check. Remind them that Dr. Seuss and L. Frank Baum already wrote their book? Check.

Sometimes that's enough to scare them off, and it's 15 minutes well invested. Good luck!

Mar. 21st, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
I sometimes wonder if the tendency for church members to make such uncomfortable requests stems partically from the whole "Zion: One Mind/No Poor Among Them" sort of philosophy. I may be stretching things here, but it seems that in this whole United Order arragement there was this natural tendency to go to those who were expert in some particular skill and expect that they would use their talents for your benefit. If you needed a horse shoed, the blacksmith in the Order would do it for you. If you needed a carpenter or a fencer or an illustrator, everybody would simply share their talents freely for the benefit of all.

I also think that it is an unfortunate tendency of Mormon humanity that whenever a condition of charitable exchange might exist, there will be some who take advantage of it with clueless abandon. Or maybe they are just naive enough to not really know any better. To the latter class of folk I usually work out some sort of arrangement whereby they can serve me with their specific skills, at a scale that I negotiate in advance. I am, after all, the one who classifies what my talents are worth in the professional realm, and it is a bit more than a few quarts of canned peaches for a logo.
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
Both with my Indonesian and my American friends I made it very clear from the beginning that I'd of course answer specific questions about single sentences or grammar issues but that I wouldn't give them free language lessons. O.k., sometimes I'll translate things for arnamentia (letter to the insurance company) or accompany her when she needs things sorted out, but that's not LESSONS and also she compensates me with Diet DrPepper from the army base store - which is VERY valuable to me. :o)

I also would make exceptions for members but so far neither my arms nor legs asked for language advice and I don't have any other members. I don't care if people are members of any other organisation.
Mar. 21st, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)
yes people do call dentists and accountants for free services.... people even call surveyors for free services. And the fact that only church members ask you might have something to do with *whispers* (where you live!)

People ask me the same thing, by the way. I tell them I don't have time. You should do the same. Your time is your own after all.
Mar. 21st, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
My friend is a lawyer, she gets that all the time.

I've also been asked to do complete sets of architectural drawings for people. In fact, my uncle just asked me to do a set of renovation drawings for him for a building permit. I'm on the fence with that one... he's my uncle... but it's quite a bit of work too. It puts one in an awfully uncomfortable situation.

It boggles my mind how people can things like this of their friends and aquaintences.
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
This is what happened to me today:

I had a really stressful day and arrived half an hour early for the last class of the day. I sat in my car and thought "ah, alas, some minutes just for me, a break after all, time to eat my sandwich!" (it was 3.30 pm and I didn't have any break before, this would basically have been breakfast...).

3 seconds later student Ms W approached the car. "Oh, there you are, half an hour early!"
Me: "Yes, but that's my break and I would appreciate..."
She: "You can have coffee upstairs at the office!"
Me: "Erm, I have soda here and wanted to eat my sandwich and actually wanted to have a bit of a break before..."
She: "Ah, do come with me, have your break at the office!"

At that point of time it would have been impolite by me not to come with her - I would have had to say "listen, I want some minutes alone, in piece and quiet, just leave me alone!!!"

So I followed her. Got a paper cup of awful machine brew and sat in the reception area. 3 seconds later she sat next to me:
"So, now we have some time so you can show me what you did last week when I was ill so I have half an hour to make up for it, isn't that great?!"

So basically my "break" was half an hour unpaid private class for Ms W.

I feel your pain.

I really wonder, too, if dentists have the same problems... ("Just drill a bit while we're here, just use this hair pin, I'm no sissy!")
Mar. 22nd, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
sure it's ignorance, but if people dont respect your work as work, then you shouldn't respect them as clients, and pander to them trying not to offend.

Just say, "well, contact my agent, and I'm sure we can work something out..."
then setup a new gmail account with any name that fits, and lay all the blame on this "agent" of yours!

it's a tricky world, you've got to sneak a little bit sometimes...

ps. the more you rock, the more they want, right?
that's some good seefood up there, btw
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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