Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What I Learned by Getting Burned

I guess it's a sign of the economic times, but a lot of freelancers seem to be talking about getting burned by publishers. Susan Johnston at the Urban Muse posted a couple of pieces along these lines after she got burned last year. Then today I read an article by Jenny Cromie at The Golden Pencil about the same problem.

That's all fine and dandy, but I always assumed these freelancers were talking to other writers. It wasn't going to happen to me, because I'd been careful. Well, in honor of hindsight, here is my addition to the pile of lessons learned from getting burned:

1. No matter how careful you are about selecting publishers, you may find yourself without payment. This is because no matter how "great" a publisher may be, these days no one is above running into financial trouble. When it happens to them, it trickles down to you.

2. Losing a client you were really happy with can be a good thing. I've been distraught for the past month because one of my most steady publishers suddenly stopped paying me. Eventually (after great anxiety) I had to get over it and move on. When I was able to think clearly I realized this was going to be a good thing for me. This particular publisher took up a great deal of my time with enormous projects that kept me from doing some smaller jobs that were equally important to me. Now I find that I have time to do a lot of other projects that I wanted to do last year but didn't have the time for. Additionally, although the work was steady with that other publisher, the pay was really below what I can make elsewhere. Sometimes we need a shove to get us out of a comfort zone--in this case, of steady work.

3. Sometimes it takes getting burned every now and then to shift your perspective. It's a tough way to learn, but when things are always going our way, we get complacent.

What's your take on all of this?

No comments: