A decent portion of my side income is from virtual assistant work. This can be many things, but basically someone hires me for a task that, while not always glamorous, allows me to make extra money, wherever I am, using just my laptop. I’ve done several things, from acquiring sales leads for a fashion-based business, to installing WordPress and building a series of one-page websites for another client, to typing someone’s X-rated novel.

Yep. I went there.

50 Shades of Grey (Hair, That Is)

You see, it all started with Craigslist.   (I bet lots of interesting stories begin like that.)

I responded to an ad in the computer gigs section from a guy who needed someone to type his novel. His ad explained that he was not tech-savvy so he hand writes everything and needed someone to type it up in a word document, and upon completion, he’d pay extra to format for e-book. I figured it sounded easy enough. I gave him a quote and he gave me the gig.  Before I started, I asked him to send over a writing sample so I could make sure I was able to read his handwriting. His handwriting was easy to read so we agreed upon the price and turnaround time. At this point he mentioned that his book was an erotic novel.

Ok, so I read 50 Shades – so what? I mean we’re all adults here. He sent the pages and I cashed the check.  The funny thing is, he included a business card in the package, and it had his photo as well as a website for his sculptures. He looked like a friendly fella. He also looked like he was pushing 70.

I giggled because I didn’t expect this man who looked like he could be my Grampa to be writing erotic fiction. A dirty old man indeed.

Good for him, I thought!

Then I started typing… and let’s just say that the kink was in full effect. But that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the fact that the book was poorly written. I mean, it was terrible! It had inconsistencies, and things that just weren’t right. Names didn’t match up, and for someone who is totally Type A, well, this was a major problem.

Keep in mind I was getting paid only to type. I would not be doing any editing. However, once I began, the OCD in me wanted to correct things. But how do you call Gramps and say, “No way could she take off her underwear because earlier you said she wasn’t wearing any!”

I emailed him and asked politely if he would be willing to pay extra for me to take the liberty of doing some basic editing, and he said, “No. That’s why I don’t let my wife type these for me, because she goes around and changes stuff.” Smart woman.

So there I am, typing bad porn… and after finishing the 8 chapters he sent, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not only was it just bad, I had underestimated the time it would take per page, and after doing the math, I was only making about $10/hr. Sorry, I’m a hustler, but my time is more valuable than that, so I sent him his book and turned down more work from him.

I felt kind of bad because he said he had already gone through 2 people who hadn’t worked out, but honestly, if you want someone to do your dirty work, ya gotta be willing to pay for it. And get an editor, for cryin’ out loud! But I still gotta give it to the old guy. Bad writing or not, his mind was still young, that’s for sure!

What’s the weirdest or most embarrassing job you’ve done?  Leave it in the comments! If you have anything really good, I may ask you to guest post!

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