Every wannabe author has this fantasy of what the job is like. This fantasy usually involves writing. Ha! Ben Chadwick, a programmer with an MFA in creative fiction, has called out for help on Craigslist.
Specifically, he wants someone to work for $80 to $100 a week to market his oeuvre. He has a day job, so no time to waste "sticking his tongue into the greasy gears of the publishing machine," as he puts it. The sad thing is, with the state of the media job market, I don't think he'll have any trouble finding someone to do the work:
Slightly published fiction MFA seeking literary assistant for sending out manuscripts (short stories, mostly, as well as novel queries and maybe other stuff) to appropriate publications. The assistant would research publications, track submissions, stuff envelopes, perform some light editing, and offer criticism.
The ideal candidate would have an MFA or a BA in English/Creative Writing, some editing experience, and extensive knowledge of the literary publishing "market". It would certainly help if you have similar tastes to my own, and especially if you like my writing. (Please do not view this Craigslist post as a sample.) You MUST be located in the New York City area.
I expect this would take up about 6-8 hours per week. Pay would be $80-$100/week depending on experience. The rate is negotiable. I am readily willing to compensate for superior quality work and dedication. I would also happily critique and edit some fiction, essays, resumes, applications, etc. for you. Most of the work could be done from home. We would meet up once every week or two and you could hand me a stack of envelopes awaiting my signature. Please note, there would almost certainly be weeks without work (meaning no pay, either). Alternative arrangement suggestions are welcome. I will cover mailing costs and I might even buy you some falafel. I'm already worried that you're not getting enough to eat on your measly wage.
I will be realistic about what I'm offering here. This obviously wouldn't work as a primary job. For someone working part-time or interning already, however, it could contribute some booze money or help defray rent. I am not a slave-driver, and there is potential that this could be a long-term partnership if it works out. This would be good training for a future literary agent. And someday I will write you a recommendation that will make Jesus jealous. Hell, I'm tempted to apply for this myself.
About the author: Mr. X received his MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from George Mason University a couple years ago and has been busy paying the rent ever since. He also holds a BA in Archaeology from the University of Virginia. His tastes are primarily modern/post-modern/international. Italo Calvino, Julio Cortazar, Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, Haruki Murakami, David Foster Wallace, Jack Kerouac, Robert Coover, Nathanael West, Kurt Vonnegut, John dos Passos. He works in the financial sector (tick-tock) and rides the MTA home to Queens.
Basically, Mr. X has a complete apathy/loathing for the submissions process itself, and not enough free time, either, because of his day job. He has written some worthy short stories but hates sticking his tongue into the greasy gears of the publishing machine, and he never has enough stamps anyway. So, he has been sitting on some good work for several years and would like to see it get printed — and write more.
Oh, and how did I know Mr. X was Ben Chadwick? The academic credentials he presented made finding his LinkedIn profile a snap. Turns out Chadwick has first-hand experience in poorly paid publishing work: He worked as a "slave" for La Cucina Italiana, a magazine, before finding work in financial services.
Oh, and? Chadwick and I attended the same school in northern Virginia, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, five years apart. Ben, look me up at the next reunion. I'll share some writing tips. For free.
Update: We've heard from Ben Chadwick! "For the record, I am not frustrated by writing," he writes in an email. "I am frustrated by time." He also complains that we should have understood from his post that he wished to remain private. Right! Ben, posting detailed biographical information on Craigslist is a really bad way to maintain privacy.
(Photo of frustrated writer via Cheese Marketing Ramblings)