I got a curt e-mail today from Demand Studios, a notorious content marketing company I worked for back when I was trying to get my freelance career off the ground. The pay was abysmal and the pace brutal. It was crap content and I wrote close to 2000 articles for them over a year. I knew I was being taken advantage of, but it gave me enough to squeak by while writing other things that would eventually pay considerably more.
DS was informing me that the quality of my work forced them to revoke my writing "privileges". They've been thinning out their writing stable out for some time in favor of writers that produce dull copy without complaint and without arguing with editors. As nearly as I could tell their "editors were mostly 20-something communications majors fresh out of college. The DS editorial staff was arrogant, irritable and often almost illiterate. They frequently had no idea what they were asking you to write about, but confidently ordered changes that made no sense.
The note came from a no-reply e-mail box and the company offers no way for you to contact them or return a reply. This is also how the communication between writer and editor goes - one way, editor to writer, lord and master to peasant. Therefore, I decided that I'd post an open letter to them in the hopes that some day one of this modern day pulp nonfiction publishers' staff members might read it and know what they think.
Dear Demand Studios:
I haven't written for you guys in more than two years. The fact that
it's taken this long to get around to flushing me from your author list,
says something about your management of the folk who write for you.
I wouldn't write for you guys in any case. Your reasons for removing me
are immaterial and more than a little insulting given the hundreds of
successful articles I wrote for you. The only rejections I ever had with
you were the result of mistakes your editors made in the assignment of
Since leaving DS behind, I've found other outlets to write for. I'm
doing independent commercial freelance writing and I'm the top writer
with a new company for which I've ghost-written 20 some odd books in the
past 18 months. It's actually kind of nice to make a living wage
writing copy I can be proud of.
There's no need for the intimidation routine. I get it. You use up
writers and toss them aside and feel you need some kind of lame excuse.
Writers to DS are a commodity. If that's what you want to do, you are
perfectly free to do so. As writers we are perfectly free not to work
It was a learning experience mostly of the sort that you don't wish to ever repeat. I do know what I'll tell any new
writer if they ask about DS as a web-publisher. Good luck with your
business model. You'll need it.