I did some work for this man through Odesk in my first year out of college. He was working on a religious weight loss book called The Miracle Diet, and I was trying to pay my rent.
His wife was an alum at my university (Brown University), and I was new to freelancing. I wrote a chapter of his book for him at first, which he paid me for. Then I did approximately 20 hours of work for him editing the rest of his book. And this was heavy copyediting. Most paragraphs required major reworking.
I remained in touch with him throughout the process, and he was happy with the work I did.
Then I didn’t hear from him. For months, I called and messaged him, trying to get in contact. I did not hear back.
After a while, I noticed the book I had worked on available for sale on Amazon. I contacted him again, and he said that he did not end up using the revisions I did, and that he therefore did not owe me any money. Whether he used the revisions I made or not, we still had a written agreement (through Odesk messages) that he would pay me for this work.
I contacted his publisher, Susan Ford Collins, but she did not seem to care. I contacted collections in Florida, where he lives, but beyond that there was not a lot I could do. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it would have paid my rent for a month.
This is a message to beginning freelancers out there: even a rabbi can rip you off. Even someone with a wife who went to your university. This should not come as a surprise. But, I wish someone had reminded me as a young freelancer: do not let people take advantage of you like this man did with me. Write up a contract that both parties sign from the start. Require people to pay at each stage of the process. And if you still get ripped off—-laugh about it?
If this makes you feel annoyed, you could share this post, write a comment to counter the 33 five and four-star reviews, or write a note on his page to let his followers know what kind of a man this rabbi/weight loss guru is.
To those who bought The Miracle Diet: I hope it helped you lose weight! There are certainly some good points in there. I just wish I’d been paid for the work I did as part of the process of creating this book.
Thanks for reading!