January 28th, 2012
I talk a great deal about how I despise crowdsourcing, contests, and predatory jobs boards that encourage freelancers to underbid each other. So I am definitely on the side of not working without a paying agreement in place. But every once in a while a potential client shows up with a possible project that is so attractive and enticing to me that I actually begin to spend time, plan, and even put together some typeface and page samples into a page layout doc.
It’s embarrassing when I find myself ignoring my own paradigm.
Mind you, this does not happen often. But when it does, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about the possibilities for such a project or even more time trying to turn off my thoughts about a book I have not yet been offered.
Just a few such book design/layout projects are: the mini-coffee table book of photoessays about historic Waco, Texas; a novel containing all kinds of text material besides the straight narrative of the story; a series of health-related texts; a new edition of a community cookbook; and a two-book set based on a father’s letters to his children. Each of these contained challenges that had me sketching page shapes and grids; and each prodded me to print combinations of typefaces that might be used in their production.
The enthusiasm that causes me to break that rule I have against working for free—except for the occasional pro bono project or the book that I am so high on that I take for less than the job is worth—comes about only when I am over-ready for a book to work on and something shows up on my doorstep that I have never quite seen before.
But I am always on guard with my back permanently up against those trying to get free work on something they plan to sell.