I have my name up in a database of editors. This has gotten me work once or twice. However, it also opens me up to scams. Often it is easy to tell the scams:
Dear Sir, I have business opportunity for you due to your reputation as businessman.
But sometimes it is more subtle. For example, today I got an email that has been slightly scrambled to protect everyone’s anonymity but that goes something like this:
Dear independent clause, I am looking for virtual editors for my new company. Below is an email that needs to be edited…
So it’s an unsolicited email by a real person (I know, I looked this person up), but there is no mention of pay, and she didn’t even wait for me to express interest before sending me a copyediting “test”. This screams “Hi, I just figured out a way to get some free editing.”
I mostly like copyediting tests. I like that instead of being asked tricky questions about my three strengths and my three weaknesses, they give me a piece of work and say “do it!”. It shows what I can do, not how well I can play the game. But there are a few rules about copyediting tests. As a gesture of faith, they should be short, and they should not be an entire piece. Or if they are, they should already be published. This shows that the test-giver is not taking advantage of free editing services.
I believe I got scammed like that in the beginning of my career. I copyedited an entire memoir piece and then got reinvited to apply for the same job. When I wrote them back saying “I actually already took your test” I never heard from them again.
So, do is this a scam or is this just a beginner’s error?