Imagine you are the chef and owner of a rather decent restaurant. One day, you read a post by somebody who is looking for a good meal, a special multi-course meal. This somebody, they have a rough idea about what they want to eat, they even have drafted a recipe but need a pro to work it over and make it work.
They are willing to pay for such a meal, and you tell them you could do it. So they start asking you questions about your experiences, they want to sample your cooking etc. They seem to like your stuff so far, so they send you the first lines of their recipe and tell you: “Take these few ingredients and rudimentary instructions and cook a meal for me. I won’t pay for it, but if I like it, I will do business with you.”
You are not exactly a fan of giving away your stuff and time for free – but you tell yourself it is okay if they want to test you before they decide to give you the real gig.
So you step into your kitchen and start working, and you put effort into it, and you create a nice little appetizer. You also, as requested, write up your version of this recipe snippet. They come into your restaurant, they sit down, they eat the appetizer, they receive their overhauled recipe… they leave without comment.
A couple of days later you contact them. They tell you they are still in the process of making up your mind and would let you know in a week.
You don’t hear from them for a while.
Then, all of a sudden, you receive an e-mail, and they send you – without any further comment or reference to your previous encounter – the next part of the recipe. They suggest you do some cooking with these ingredients and rudimentary instructions. “I won’t pay for it, but if I like it, I will do business with you.”
Well, I am NOT a chef. But this was more or less what happened, when I offered my services as a writer to somebody who wanted to have their so called “film script” turned into a novel. And they wanted the first ten pages of their 120-page-script worked over novel-style – and of course for free. That is 12 % of the entire work as a “sample”. I gave them approx. five pages. And then… well, as already described.
Is it a surprise that my reply was swift and not exactly favorable?