Cost-effective for small press
Certainly a lot of free-lancers work in the publishing industry. I actually find that quite healthy. Freelancers cost a little more per hour but you only “employ” them for the number of hours you actually need. On the whole, they’re paid per task anyway. This is a little different form employing someone full-time and having to find them work to justify their salary. We can outsource when we don’t have the time ourselves.
Pros and cons of being a freelancer
It’s actually hard work being a free-lancer. You live on a knife-edge, not knowing always when the next job will come in. You tend either to be busy or looking for work. A nifty free-lancer manages to work and look for work at the same time.
People decide to go free-lance for all sorts of reasons:
· They want to be in charge of their own time.
· They want to be more selective about the work they do.
· They combine this free-lance work with other work – often their own writing – or looking after children, pets or elderly parents.
· They want to get away from having to work in the city.
Most will of course work from home, with a few going into the office, as and when needed.
The sort of work they can do
Even the bigger publishing houses use freelancers for some of these tasks. Freelancers can:
· Read submissions
· Complete structural edits.
· Publicize the book
· Market the book
Perhaps we also need to remember that the content-providers – the writers and the illustrators – are all free-lancers and work from home, so publishers are already used to how this works.
Other benefits for small press
The free-lancer will work quite quickly. They need to get though a certain number of jobs in order to pay the mortgage, the other bills and to put food on the table. But this is never at the cost of quality. If they don’t provide quality you’re hardly likely to ask them again.
A few new freelancers may undercharge and take on too much work. But even they are worth giving a chance. They will be meticulous in their work, if a little slow. If you have the time, it’s worthwhile helping them through the learning curve.
Some freelancers I know
· One combines working with a primary school as a teaching assistant with doing occasional editorial work for us.
· One who was made redundant, a published writer, supplements her income by offering in-depth critiques, copy-editing and proof-reading.
· A former editor at one of the Big Six now offers critique services to developing writers.