When Is It Acceptable NOT to Pay the Ghostwriter?

20 replies
Two and a half weeks ago, I retained the services of a ghostwriter for a project that was due on April 20.

The deadline came and went, and I didn't hear a word from the ghostwriter. On April 21, I sent a follow-up e-mail enquiring as to the status of the project, and received no response.

On April 22, I sent another e-mail, asking the writer to confirm that they're no longer interested in completing this assignment so I can transfer it to another writer in my team - again, to no response.

It's now April 23, and I have an unfinished project on my hands, plus a site that's been assembled and just missing the product to go with it. I am tempted to assign it to a different writer or possibly even write it myself - however, that would mean not paying my current ghostwriter if they should choose to complete the project several days later.

Under the circumstances, is it acceptable to make this decision? I did warn the writer several weeks in advance that deadlines are exceptionally important and they did agree to the stated delivery time. Now all I'm getting is dead silence from them.
#acceptable #ghostwriter #pay
  • Profile picture of the author Shannon Tani
    I would say that in this situation, it's acceptable to not pay the writer. After all, they haven't produced any work.

    However, I would also email them one more time to let them know that you are going to go to someone else.


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  • Profile picture of the author dsmpublishing
    I totally agree with Shannon,

    They havent provided you with your order and you have emailed me several times asking for it so i would contact them one more time to let them know and find someone else to do it for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author George Chernikov
    Thanks a lot - that's what I've done. I sent the GW an email saying that, if I do not hear from them within 24 hours, I will assign the project to someone else.

    I also made it very clear that, if this were to happen, I would not be able to remunerate them for any work they may have done so far, since the project would be written from scratch by someone else.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Raybould
    Hey George,

    That's exactly the path I'd take too.

    I've been in your exact situation before,
    and it's very frustrating.

    The really annoying thing was that the
    writer later complained to me because
    I filed a paypal dispute - even though
    she missed the deadline by a month
    and hadn't written a single word!

    Anyway, good luck, hope you get it
    smoothed out one way or another.

    -David Raybould
    Killer Emails. Cash-spewing VSLs. Turbocharged Landing Pages.

    Whatever you need, my high converting copy puts more money in your pocket. PM for details. 10 years experience and 9 figure revenues.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Pereira
    It's your money, as long as you agreed on the terms (deadline etc) before you hired them it's fair enough not to pay them.

    It's also acceptable not to pay a ghostwriter when they turn in rubbish.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sonny1977
    I wouldn't pay.

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  • Profile picture of the author AndyBlackSEO
    I agree. I wouldn't pay. They knew the deadlines and it has passed that date with no response. Timewasters, unless there is a valid reason for it, although whatever the reason is you are still right to use someone else and not pay this first ghostwriter.
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    • Profile picture of the author edhan
      I do agree with others that you can opt not to pay as the deadline is over. This is similar to some projects I had in rent a coder when the persons can't complete the task. They too accept cancellation as they did not meet the deadline though I had extended.

      Just remember to give a final email to them stating that you are terminating your contract and hiring another to complete the task or you are doing it yourself. Also remember to Cc a copy to yourself.

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      • Profile picture of the author imventures
        You should send a termination email or letter to terminate their services for non performance and hire another ghostwriter. Most professional free lancers will accept that it is their fault for missing the deadline.

        However, you have to be prepared in the event that the ghostwriter may turn hostile, and maybe pay them for any work they may have done so far. It would probably be a small price to pay rather than having them besmirch your reputation etc. It may not seem fair, but that's business.
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    • Profile picture of the author Spinethetic
      Originally Posted by AndyBlackSEO View Post

      I agree. I wouldn't pay. They knew the deadlines and it has passed that date with no response. Timewasters, unless there is a valid reason for it, although whatever the reason is you are still right to use someone else and not pay this first ghostwriter.
      I second that. If you have a pre-arrnged aggreement with them and they don't fulfill their obligations, you have no reason to hold yours. The contract is officially nulled if it is breached and if and when they do send you your copy, if after the project deadline it is up to your discretion to pay them.

      But even if they broke the agreement and sent you the copy some time after the deadline and you refused to pay them but yet you used their copy or modified version of their copy, you could possably run into some legal actions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kim Davis
    You have been overly fair. I would not have given another 24 hr notice. I would have sent an email stating that you are canceling your request as of now and given it to someone else already.
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  • Profile picture of the author MarkWrites
    You are more than right not to pay, but I would make sure to take the final step of sending an email stating that the previously agreed on writing assignment has been cancelled due to lack of communication and their not producing any material. You can then go on and assign it to another content creator and you hopefully won't hear back from the first one something like "how come you didn't let me know I should stop working on your project?"

    Good luck with your project.
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  • Profile picture of the author George Chernikov
    Alright folks, thanks a lot - I've given the writer a 24-hour notification and we'll see if they come through.
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  • Profile picture of the author thatgirlJ
    Yep, I agree. Just tell the writer you're canceling the project and you should be under no further obligation. Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author RenFromPenn
    I don't know, I agree that if the ghostwriter has missed the deadline, then you shouldn't be required to pay. I would, however, have given them a little more time. You have no idea what is going on in their life. Perhaps something terrible has happened and dealing with your project is the last thing on their mind.

    I think that I would have given them about a week to get back to me. If I didn't hear a peep, then I wouldn't pay.
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  • Profile picture of the author elle56
    Lesson learned here is that we have to be explicit in our terms when hiring someone to do the work for us. If they are unable to meet the deadline, this and that would apply. Failure to comply with the rules would terminate the contract. I think you've been too kind with the GW.
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    • Profile picture of the author WebScript

      I think you are on the right track with how you are approaching this.

      The project was due 3 days ago (April 20), and you sent a few emails over those 4 days with no response. And now, you have given another day ... I think that is more than fair.

      RenFromPenn suggested you give the GW more time, which you could if you want, but it is not likely a personal situation would prevent or excuse someone from replying with a quick email like:
      Sorry I am late with your project, I have been dealing with some unforeseen circumstances. I am xx% completed with the project and I expect to complete it nn days. If that is not acceptable to you, I can send you what I have completed so far for $zzz. Please let me know your thoughts on how you think we should proceed.
      But without any response, you could wait that extra week and still no response, and then loose that weeks time in getting someone else to do it.

      The only thing you haven't mentioned is whether you have paid them for the work already. Not that that makes a difference of if you are right or not, but if you have already paid, how you approach this will have an effect on your ability to recover what you have paid.

      If you have paid already, even a partial payment, you could contact PayPal to try to find their phone number and than call them, if you wanted to go that far.

      Of course, you may never know, but the GW may be 90% completed and you may be a day away from completion ... or not.

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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    I would take the dead silence as being your answer and move the project to another writer.

    I highly recommend you try Jenn Dize she is amazingly good at what she does and she meets deadlines...

    I would however, send your current writer a last email to state the contract has been void and you would like your deposit back (if you gave one)...

    Mike Hill
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Wagoner
    Missing a deadline without notification, particularly after you'd made it clear upfront, would negate the deal, IMO.

    I'd also be wary of extending any more time. This is based on the consideration that you may waste more time waiting for something which may never actually materialize, and you may get a half arsed product if it does.

    I'm a writer, and loathe this type behavior.

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  • Profile picture of the author George Chernikov
    I haven't paid the writer in advance, so thankfully I'm not losing money over here.

    Although, this is the second time it happened - the first time the same writer had to bail out because of deaths in the family. However, they actually took time to contact me and explain the situation, which I greatly appreciated.

    With that said, a missed deadline is a missed deadline - and it's already cost me money in sales that didn't materialize because of this.
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