What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Becoming a freelance editor; becoming a freelance proofreader; becoming a freelance indexer, Parts 3a and 4: Cold calling follow-up; client relations

One last matter on the cold-calling thing. The first client, one of my faves and responsible for steady work going on 10-11 years, has resulted in zero referrals over that time. The second client -- the vanity publisher -- has, through referrals by its two book designers, been responsible for a variety of work that now accounts for about 10 percent of my annual income, even though the client itself is in a dormant phase. There's no real point to that statement, except that you can never really tell where a nice chunk of work is going to come from. Big client (one that actually publishes books you've heard of), no referrals. Little client, great referrals. I'll take 'em both. Like I said about potential pornography clients (no, I don't have any . . . yet), their money spends the same as everyone else's.

OK. So you've got a client or two or twenty. You're meeting deadlines, you're getting steady work. Scenario: all of a sudden, from a good client: bupkus. (Look it up if you need to.) What happened, and what do you do?

This actually did happen with the first client above last year. I think I got three or four books from them all year until about November. I'd been steady with other work, so didn't think much of it. Then the economy started cratering and I'm thinking it's time to shore up the good folks. So I wrote the managing editor and asked what's up? How come so few jobs this year? The answer I received was instructive, if not entirely logical. "We've been sending work to those people who have let us know they are available." Well, damn. Never occurred to me that I needed to do that.

For many of my clients, I pretty much have a standing arrangement, even though most usually do the courteous (but unnecessary) thing and check with me first. I say, Go ahead and send me the work. Presume I will take it and meet your deadline. Presume I am always available to do your work.

I really think that some of my clients believe (or believed) that I work only for them . . . although how they figure that I am supporting four people, two school payments, a mortgage, a ton of medical bills, and debt out the yin-yang on the basis of a couple of proofreading or indexing jobs each month, I'm not exactly sure. But that is exactly what I want my clients to believe: that I live to work just for them. It's called customer service. I've told my publishers, some in a rather direct manner and any number of times, that my workload is absolutely none of their concern until I start missing deadlines. As long as we have agreed-upon dates and rates, then what other work I have to do is none of their business. And, quite frankly, if I'm working on a page-rate basis, how long it takes me to do a job is not really a concern of theirs either, as long as the quality of my work is such that they have an incentive to send me more work in the future.

This approach sometimes puts me in a bind (I might be giving away some Land on Demand secrets here), because a client will send me a job with a three-week turnaround and five days later ask me how it's going or if I have any questions, or can I send them what I've done so far so they can begin futzing with the design. Ummm, when is my deadline again? Have I missed something?

My fear, with one of my clients in particular, is that per is going to drop a stickinote in the middle of some project that says, "No matter when you are reading this, call me and leave me a message," knowing that it's some huge project, and I'm reading it at three in the morning about five days before it's due, and it's been sitting on my desk for three weeks.

Questions, or the Freelance Performance Appraisal:

Am I getting the work done?
Is it being done for the agreed-upon rate?
Is the quality what you expect from me?
Are you getting it back on time?

If the answer is yes to all those questions, I expect the client to remain a good one. Please don't make me ask the following question:

It's been 30 days. Where's my money?

I hate to be so mercenary about it, but if it weren't for my little slice of the world, I'd have no slice at all. It's called being "without other employable traits."


moi said...

Please don't make me ask the following question:

It's been 30 days. Where's my money?


Seriously, this post couldn't be any more right-on-er. Should be sent to every publisher in the universe.

K9 said...

im past 30 days too. on the job i go the go on december 22 with the final due january 5 effectively killing the holiday - oh hell who am i kidding id rather work anyway.

so - i just gotta let everyone know i am available!? i wish that would work.

czar said...


I don't have all the answers, or many at all, but I've been amazed how often that tactic has worked with clients who have used me regularly then slowed down.