All copywriters want one thing: to be paid fairly for services. I’m no different. And it’s hard to get people to realize the amount of time and skill involved with copywriting. So it’s no surprise that many prospective customers try to lowball us for services. Earlier this week, the exact opposite happened. A prospective client contacted me through my personal Facebook account, offering me an easy $6,000 for what they described as a “typing job.” I was both curious and skeptical.
They sent me a large file with images of text they wanted retyped and sent back as a PDF.
“Do you have font, line spacing, and margin preferences?” I asked.
“No. It needs to look as close to the text in the images as possible,” they said.
I used the preview option to look at the photos because downloading an unknown file to my computer didn’t feel right. The images were of a 200-page research paper that was published. The author of the research paper wasn’t the person I was speaking to; as far as I could tell, the person who contacted me had no connection to the author or the publisher.
Why would someone want a 200-page research paper retyped? Here’s a random fact about me. I’m not a trusting person. Many thoughts ran through my mind when they told me how much money they would pay me.
Also, given that they were so willing to part with so much money, I felt the offer of $6,000 was more of an “I’m going to blind you with a ton of cash so you won’t ask any questions” offer.
I walked through the offer in my mind. I was asked to retype the text from high-resolution images and keep the formatting as close to the original as possible. This also included recreating the cover page and all the graphics inside, which wasn’t much from what I saw. But why?
What would someone do with an already-published research paper? Is this the type of content that could be pirated? I know digital books are often pirated, but a research paper? They were offering $6,000 for this typing job. They had plans to earn that money back. I hated walking away from that kind of money. And yet, I believe these people were up to no good.
Alexa! How do you turn a client down without accusing them of piracy or copyright infringement?
Turning this offer down was the right thing to do. But despite my suspicions, I wanted to sound professional and make it clear my rejection wouldn’t change. I didn’t know how to do this. So, I phoned a friend. My best friend. She always knows what to say and isn’t afraid to say it. A bonus is that she’s classy and never shoves her foot in her mouth like I do.
Taking her advice, I told them I couldn’t make their deadline of one week, but if they still wanted to work with me, I’d need a notarized consent form signed by both the publisher and the author so I wouldn’t risk copyright infringement. I never heard back. An acceptable response, considering I felt they had nefarious intentions.
To any copywriters reading this, always ask questions. Always assume that if chaos hits the fan, it’ll roll downhill and strike you. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I have a hypothetical question for you, dear reader. If I took screenshots of the title page that contained the author’s and publisher’s information, should I reach out to them and let them know what happened? I’m not a copyright expert, so I don’t know for sure what I was asked to do was wrong. On the other hand, even if it wasn’t wrong, would it hurt to give the author and publisher a heads-up? Please let me know in the comments!
Do you have a document that needs to be typed? Do you own the rights to the content? I love typing! The clickety-clack sound of the keyboard is soothing and satisfying. Contact me today if I can help you.
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