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Could Use a Little Help

Hey everyone…I am in dire need of some business advice. Especially from the professionals out there!

As most of you know, I’m freelancing a lot right now for a few different magazines. One particularly has very odd rules which have been accumulating since the day I signed my contract. I want to know how people think I should handle this:

-They require me to come into the office once a week for eight hours….and not get paid for those hours. (I was ok with this thinking it would be a temporary thing…like, until they got used to me and knew I was doing my job and doing it well. Well, it’s not temporary in their minds. They want me to continue coming in for the rest of my life and then sign my first born over to the company.)

-So, while I’m at the office, not getting paid for hours I’m working, (not only writing but doing other random odd jobs that a freelancer shouldn’t be doing for a company. In my mind at least) they dictate that I’m not allowed to eat or drink at my laptop which I bring into the office with me every week. I would understand if it was their equipment…but this is my computer. Not to mention, writing is creative process. I NEED MY COFFEE TO BE CREATIVE. In all honesty, I could be around the corner writing and getting MORE work done with a venti caramel frap.

-Also, while at the office, working hours which I am not being paid for, the editor has mandated that everyone MUST take lunch between the hours of 12:30 and 1:30. If you don’t leave the office during this time, then you DON’T LEAVE AT ALL. IE - If you don’t eat lunch at 12:30, you go hungry. Now…I am turning 25 in a couple of weeks. I really don’t need someone telling me when to eat. I am a professional and I should be allowed to eat when hungry. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I should be able to go to that without being chastised by a boss who doesn’t pay me for the hours I work within the office. Outside of working in the food industry and retail, I never thought it wouldn’t matter WHEN I ate my lunch within an office environment. Plus…do I need to remind everyone, yet again, that I’m not being paid for these hours? How in the world can you justify telling people when they can leave when you’re not paying them?

-And lastly, the editor sent notice to the writers that there were too many grammatical errors in this issue. And that in the next round of articles, we will be docked $25 per mistake. PER. MISTAKE. I only get paid $100 per article. So, you’re telling me that if I make 4 mistakes, you will pay me nothing? And, I’m sorry, I was under the impression that it was an editor’s job to, oh I don’t know…EDIT!

Now, I know I sound like a whiny child here, and if I had a ton of really stupid grammatical errors within my articles, then I would understand an editor coming to me and saying, “Look, Colleen, you really need to check over your articles before sending them in.” It’s just the way we’re all being treated that irks me so much. But all this being said, I revise and edit my articles A LOT. Not to mention none of the editors at the three other magazines I write for have ever had a problem with me or my grammar.

So, all this being said…please enlighten me. Perhaps this IS how the industry works and I am just inexperienced? How should I handle this? Should I terminate my contract? I am seriously stressed out about it…any insight would be SO appreciated.

11 Responses to “Could Use a Little Help”

  1. moonrat Says:

    hey. i got your email. this is hideous. i have some notions up front, but i’m going to do a little research among my colleagues and get back to you so i have some chops to back me up.

  2. Colleen_Katana Says:

    Thanks moonie…I really, really appreciate it.

  3. Dec Says:


    I’m no expert, nor do i work in the same industry as you, but it is quite lousy how you’re being treated. I’ve worked at LOTS of different jobs and sure, you get treated like that with a lot of jobs, but surely the advantage of having a creative job means you can take liberties such as having coffee while you write!
    It’s worth asking yourself, what can you hypothetically get out of this job and also, those who you work with, are they getting anything positive out of it? Or has anybody previously done well from the same job? Sure, you’re only 25 (nearly) but it’s worth seeing what your options are before you get stuck in a crummy job that’s doing nothing for you (i’m not saying that’s the case here, just be wary is all).

    Hope all works out for ya,

    Dec (ie, a complete stranger)

    PS. Editors SHOULD edit!

  4. WordVixen Says:

    I’m thinking this is the physical job equivalent of the scammers on job bidding boards. $25 per mistake? I think they want you to make mistakes so they don’t have to pay you what you’re worth.

    We’ve got a lot of successful freelancers in their mid twenties- I think you should be looking for something better while using this place as a safety net.

    Ok, “pushy yet supportive” friend moment over. :)

  5. Sarah Says:


    Good luck!

  6. Colleen_Katana Says:

    Hi Dec - Yeah, I’m definitely thinking along those lines. I’m dealing with some contractual issues with them too now. Ugh, it’s just one big mess.

    Word - It sounds like a scam, right? Only it’s not…it’s a legitimate print magazine which I used to read and has a decent circulation, etc. It’s so bizarre.
    I am definitely looking for something better in the meantime (I never stop looking!)

    Sarah - Haha, quick and to the point. I love it!

  7. JeanLogic Says:

    Hi Colleen,

    I work for Pearson Eduction (editorial assistant) and have worked offsite for several years. A lot of our employees - including freelancers - work offsite and I have never heard of the requirements you are subjected to.

    BTW, I’m a cousin of the Boyfriend!(4th or 5th, removed a few times). Please tell me it wasn’t Sean (or Tom) who stopped the boat leak with a tampon.

    Best of luck with the job.
    “Cousin” Jeannie

  8. Colleen_Katana Says:

    Hi Jeannie,

    Nice to meet you! (Sort of) I’ve been trying to break into the publishing/writing world for a while now, so congrats on the position with Pearson Education! I’m so glad people have responded in the way they have here. I thought the demands were a little much at this publication, but since I’m new to the scene, I wasn’t sure.

    And no–it was not Tom or Sean who plugged the boat with a tampon. That was actually a commercial! I mean, really….what terrible marketing! Sheesh!

  9. JeanLogic Says:


    The textbook authors for Pearson are primarily college professors, but if you are interested in editorial work, I can submit your resume to the HR department. There are offices on Madison between 26th and 27th (Allyn and Bacon, and Longman Publishers) and 1330 Avenue of the Americas (Financial Times and Pearson Ed corporate). Pearson also owns Penguin Putnam (Hudson St). I could query the education HR folks if they forward resumes to the Penguin folks. My husband works for ESPN/Disney and their trade group(Hyperion) has offices in NYC. We could try submitted your resume there too, if you’d like. I think Sean isn’t too fond of Disney, but they pay the bills and offer good benefits. Let me know if you are interested…

  10. Colleen_Katana Says:

    I AM INTERESTED!!! =0) Oh my gosh, am I ever interested! Anything you can do to help, I would be so appreciative.

    I actually had looked into trying to get a job with Hyperion, but I never saw any openings listed on the Disney employment page or on its personal website. I actually used to work for Disney a few years ago on the development team within their photo imaging department and loved the company. Does Sean or Debbie have your email address?

  11. JeanLogic Says:

    Debbie has it. Please forward your resume and I’ll pass along.

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