Rewrites: Easy Money or a Waste of Your Time?

I’m frequently offered writing projects that involve “minimal research” or “most of the work has been done” and by the time I’ve waded through the hype, it simply boils down to a buyer looking for a rewrite of existing material. The money tends to be low because you do not need to do so much work and a speedy $100 is something we all look for but writer beware – there is a frequent sting in the tail!

I have a basic rule – I do not take on rewrite commissions.

The reasoning is simple and the factors in my refusals are numerous.

Rewriting is a sugar coated form of plagiarism designed to trick search engines and readers that what is being presented is original because “neither” has been substituted for “nor” enough times where necessary or similar. If you are going to create compelling and interesting work, you need to inject a degree of passion into the piece and unfortunately, I have never been able to get passionate about copying someone else’s work.

Commercially, the claims from buyers that the “research” has been done does not cover the low rate of pay offered to perform the job. You still have to take some time to come to terms with the subject matter in order to be able to produce content that makes proper sense in the appropriate context. In addition to this, whatever you are rewriting, you will be relying on the “research” that is implicit in the original piece; all too often I’ve found that the research is nothing more than a huge, steaming pile of “you know what” and needs to be clarified. In other words, you are not “rewriting”, you are “writing” only for a fraction of the fee.

There is an even more compelling arguement against taking on rewriting projects. Chris Knight of Ezine Articles says it best for me:

“Demand more of yourself and produce the majority of your article content from your own expertise before you even consider researching what others have written so you won’t be tempted. You can do it and it is possible.”

Whether you are looking to create compelling sales copy, informative articles or a lucid technical manual or book, rewriting is indeed a slippery downward slope that I personally would like to avoid at all costs. The damage to your credibility and authority is greater than if you simply decided to do a “cut and paste” hatchet job – rewriting indicates that you purposely set out to conceal the deceit!

My personal advice to you is to steer clear of rewriting wherever possible unless the fee is so huge you can retire or are prepared to change your name to “Jeffrey Archer”. If you are bent on taking on rewriting work, then drop me a line – I have a stack of people who are looking for you but don’t say I didn’t warn you!