May 23rd, 2011
My, how things have changed! When I wrote this for the hacked blog over three years ago, traditional publishers were on a much sounder footing than today. Additionally, self-publishing had not yet lost its “vanity publishing” stigma, nor become the sophisticated business model some authors have made it. Indeed, some of my most profitable projects and must pleasant clients were with self-published books.
My experience is that steady projects and paydays usually result from hooking up with established publishers and book packagers. And by “established,” I really mean traditional publishing companies, run as businesses rather than acts of love; ones that have a number of authors in the fold. In the case of book packagers, this means ones that do production for at least a few publishers.
In my estimation, such smaller clients often do not seem to think like businesses. They sometimes do not appear to value freelancers as other small businesspeople. Often it seems that they seek to pay their contractors in the most economical way they can, forgetting that they should want to work with freelancers who value the work they do to much the same high degree that the publishers value their books.
More’s the pity, because a lot of times the more interesting book projects that cross the transom come from micro- and self-publishers—at least those few who do not publish books about self-publishing and how to self-publish. Unfortunately, these tiny book projects do not often result in the best paydays.
I find, then, that the most satisfying way for me to work is to have my cake and eat it, too. That is, a steady diet of an established publisher or two’s books enables me to afford to work for these smaller clients. That way, I earn the income I need and I get to design and lay out interesting, even amusing at times, books. And the only way I know to ensure such a balance of clients and projects is by not worrying about turning down low-paying work until I have enough work on the rolls that pays sufficiently.