Adventures in Ghost Writing

This horse is laughing. Why aren't you?

This horse is laughing. Why aren’t you?

There’s a website called Scripted.com that acts as a go-between for bloggers and writers. It works like this: a blog-runner wants content in a certain field. He or she posts a request on Scripted.com, asking for article pitches. Writers who have been vetted for that field are allowed to pitch on the job. If awarded the job, they write the article and get paid.

Intrigued, I signed up as someone who can write about art, design, and movies. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, these jobs usually pay about $29 an article. Which is low anyway, but really low when you take into account that it’s ghost-writing. You’re not even supposed to take credit for your work once it’s published. ┬áThe way I figure it, writers should get paid MORE for any writing they do without credit. Hush money, so to speak.

I kept an eye on the writing requests anyway, just to see what’s out there. Then came one I couldn’t resist.

Pitches for a Weekly Cartoon Text

Things to Mention: General interest gags, preferably business or family related

Things to Avoid: adult themes, politics, religion

Additional Notes: Gags can be rated G, PG, PG-13 & R but not XXX

Payment: $2.50

Hmm. So a cartoonist is looking for gags? And he’ll be paying a whopping $2.50 per joke? I’m in!

Yes, my enthusiasm is sarcastic, but I thought it would be fun to pitch it anyway. Here’s what I sent off:

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says “Why the Long Face?”

Surprise, surprise… I got an email from the site saying the party “loved” my pitch. So now I had to write the comic. Erm… okay. Here’s my first attempt:

Cartoon Text: The Horse

PANEL ONE
Medium shot. A bartender stands at the bar, washing a glass.

PANEL TWO
A horse enters from screen right.

PANEL THREE
The bartender and horse look at each other. An uncomfortable silence.

PANEL FOUR
The bartender says “Why the long face?”

So the next day, I get this email:

Chief Complaint Hi Mike, Per the client’s feedback, the gag in your pitch has already been used. These need to be unique gags. Please re-submit by end of day today

So the stale joke pitch, which he loved, is now insufficient. All right, how about this?

Cartoon Text: The Horse v2

PANEL ONE
Medium shot. A bartender stands at the bar, washing a glass. A horse stands across from him.
Horse: “Why the long face? Really? Get some new material.”

PANEL TWO
The bartender and horse look at each other. An uncomfortable silence.

PANEL THREE
The bartender looks sheepish.
Bartender: “Yeah, sorry. What can I get you?”

PANEL FOUR
Horse: “Got any hay?”

Keep in mind, I’m doing this for the fun of it at this point. What’s to lose?

Now the client answers with a zinger of a challenge.

Can we see it in one panel?

That’s the kind of thing you think he could have mentioned up front. ┬áBut sure, why not?

Cartoon Text: The Horse v3

PANEL ONE
Medium shot. A bartender stands at the bar, washing a glass. A horse stands across from him.

Horse: “Sure, I got a long face. Mister, you don’t want to hear my troubles.”

But wait, it’s not quite good enough yet. Here’s the next email:

Please let me know if you can complete these edits by end of day. As it stands, the panel needs to be made wittier/funnier:’

Oh, now he’s hitting below the belt. My jokes aren’t funny? Fine. Will this tickle his funny bone?

Cartoon Text: The Horse v4

PANEL ONE
Medium shot. A bartender stands at the bar, washing a glass. A horse stands across from him.

Horse: “Sure, I got a long face, but you don’t want to hear my troubles. Just lead me to a gin and tonic, see if I drink.”

He answers:

I’m afraid your edits didn’t meet the necessary tone for these pieces. For this reason, you’ll be compensated 50% of the payment and the job will be re-assigned.

I apologize that this was not a better fit.

$1.25 for miscellany
Paid on 05/31/2013

Ack! The final insult, I’m only paid $1.25. But think of the experience I gained!

2 comments to Adventures in Ghost Writing

  • I rarely laugh out loud at what people write in their blogs, but boy did this give me a chuckle.I actually loved the last joke. They wouldn’t know a funny joke if it was a gift horse in the mouth. ;)

  • Oh man! I should have found a way to work “gift horse” into that comic.