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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

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Due to deadlines I'm a little behind the curve on this one, but it's still a developing story. Nearly a month ago, Writer Beware posted concerns about Laray Carr Publications. This company is apparently starting up a number of magazines and has posted ads for writers and photographers on craigslist, elance, and other sites.

Apparently in August writers started to question whether or not they'd get paid. The whole thing unfolds in a rather bizarre fashion. It's possible to spend a lot of time clicking through the various links and reading up on the tale, which includes allegations of past criminal behavior and present non-payment of invoices.

At one point they apparently went looking for a lawyer to work pro bono to put a stop to all the terrible bloggers out there sullying their name. Apparently they were also looking for some photographers to provide images for free, with the promise of payment in later publications. (Caution for language in the commentary.) As a commenter who apparently placed the ad points out (and rightly), plenty of writers and photographers do unpaid work in return for credit early in their careers. I certainly did. But even in my salad days I would have thought twice about this kind of deal. I'd hope that a national magazine could afford something, even if it's a token payment.

And speaking of token payments, that's what they appeared to be offering writers. $50 for up to 1500 words? Complete with a "package" containing all of their research and background information? It's clear that this company was asking a lot for $50. It's one thing to dash off 500 words. Freelancers do it all the time. Do a bit of research, crank something out, no problem. But when the client asks for an incredible amount of research and background work for that 500-1500 words, then $50 is chicken feed. Of course, the client has every right to assurances that the work isn't plagiarized, but the writer shouldn't be expected to spend hours or days tracking down sources and get a pittance in return.

I really hope that this turns out to be a case of someone just totally clueless about how the business works, but the facts that are coming out aren't encouraging.

If you've done work for this group and have not been paid (or if you have been paid), please check in at Writer Beware. You can send them materials via e-mail in confidence.

(Just a bit of background - Writer Beware is a project of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and is headed by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss. You don't have to be an SFWA member to get assistance from them.)

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Filed under: Writing   Photography   Alerts      
10/6/2007 9:56:01 PM
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