Making a List and Checking it Twice. . .

CheckNo, I’m not Santa but I’m still making a list. Unlike Santa’s list, this one only includes those who have been naughty. Specifically, companies that use freelance medical writers but do not pay within a timely manner (i.e., 45 days from invoicing); do not pay at all; or significantly change the scope of the project but balk (or walk away) when the writer tries to change the scope of the fee.

This list was triggered by a Tweet from someone about Time Inc., and NBC charging freelancers a percentage of their fee if they want to be paid in a timely manner. Imagine that. If you want to be paid within a month or so, you have to agree to give up 4% or so of the money owed you.

There is just so much wrong with that thinking I don’t even know where to start. My outrage might be the result, in part, of my own payment woes. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have a client who just informed me they are paying at 90 days … Continue Reading

clients payment

You Need Me . . .You Really Do!

There’s been a lot of debate about the role of the medical writer in world of journal articles. The “g” word (ghostwriting) has been tossed about like salt on a Rachel Ray set. I’ll get into that debate in a later post, but for now I just want to say something about medical writers and why doctors need us: Doctors. Can’t. Write.

Ok, before you start lobbing your stethoscopes at me, let me explain. I know there are some doctors out there who are not only wonderful at writing journal articles and other medical pieces, such as CME programs, but also fiction and nonfiction. Two of my favorite authors–Perri Klass and Abraham Verghese–are physicians.

But let’s be honest here: you didn’t become physicians because of the narrative power of your pen (or keyboard). You haven’t spent 8 or 9 hours a day for the past 25 years turning a blank computer screen into a 4,000-word article or a 60,000-word book. You probably don’t have an AMA Manual of Style holding down a stack of papers on your desk, Endnote reference database on your computer, and carpal tunnel from misusing a mouse for too many years.

I know this because I … Continue Reading

clients writing

The check is in the . . . .

As one of my freelance friends recently noted on a Facebook post, the best days in a freelancer’s life are when the checks arrive. Lately, those days have been farther and farther apart.

This is the first year in 10 years of freelancing that I’ve actually woken up in the middle of the night worried about cash flow. The money is there–I’ve done the work and billed the invoices. But one large client went into Chapter 11 just as I was completing the first third of a major project. No worries, the editor assured me. All freelancers will be paid. Well, it took several calls and threats to stop work on the project before the second check finally arrived. Thankfully, the third check arrived with no problems.

Another client, a large professional medical organization, keeps “losing” my paperwork.

But the excuse that really makes me crazy is when I’m told that since my client’s client hasn’t paid them, they can’t pay me. Um, excuse me?

My contract is with you, not your client.  This is like me telling the guy currently painting my house that I can’t pay him for three months because my clients haven’t paid me. Imaging telling … Continue Reading

clients payment