This week’s Day in the Life gives insight into the world of going it alone and freelancing, with University of Stirling Publishing MLitt graduate Laura Jones!
Alarm goes off. Snooze. Sleep.
Alarm goes off. ‘Why did I choose that horrendous ‘Radar’ alarm sound?!’ Turn off alarm. Sleep.
Naturally reawake reluctantly. Check Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram and YouTube on phone. Laugh at hilarious message sent from friend who has been working for at least 45 minutes already in his ‘normal’ 9 to 5 job. Shuffle out of bed.
Turn on kettle and laptop simultaneously. Laptop will be ready by the time the coffee is. This is what freelancers are actually referring to when they talk about ‘time management’.
‘That is a truly excellent meme of an otter family going down a slide with the text “hello from the otter sliiiiiiiide” overlayed. Topical. Top notch.’ *like*
Open up notepad and glance at to-do list written the previous day. It makes sense and is orderly. Pat self on the back. That’s good time management right there.
Emails. Audible. Groupon. Pinterest. Client. LinkedIn. Kobo. The Bookseller. Woah, woah, woah there, back up, don’t lose that client in the dregs of borderline spam. Read emails. Send quick urgent replies.
Work tentatively begins.
Typical to-do list:
- Typeset [title] for [author].
- Prep ebook conversion for [publisher].
- Draft up promo plan for [author] – email for discussion – send estimated costing
- Finish website for [author]. Invoice.
- Email [client] about new contact.
- Email [client] about meet up.
- Email email email.
I may be paraphrasing a bit but that’s the general gist.
Lunch. Home made soup and whatever’s left from yesterday’s dinner.
Continue working on to-do list.
Nap on the trickier days.
Finish easier jobs such as invoicing. Avoid trickier jobs such as costing. Ponder dinner.
Break time. Netflix, usually. Jessica Jones is really good, isn’t it?
Second wind. Get inspired at this inappropriate time and make really good progress on one project.
Probably should be asleep by now.
Actually go to bed.
Did I mention this was a Sunday? The joys of freelancing and making your own hours. I took Monday off instead.
Once upon a time I had ‘normal’ hours. Only last year I was Editorial and Marketing Assistant at Saraband and was leaving my flat at 8am to return at 8pm. It was my first 9 to 5 (actually 10 to 6 plus several hours commuting between Edinburgh and Glasgow) and taught me a lot about my own skills and expectations from publishing. Their support gave me the confidence to take my particular interest in book production and promotion and present them on a freelance basis.
I found that the contacts I built through the Stirling publishing course, Twitter, and Saraband were strong enough to at least get me started as a freelancer. I was getting used to working my own flexible hours from my home and found that I could work at midnight and actually work well. After a few weeks of research and setting up the website, FloJo Services was born.
As a fully-fledged freelancer I’ve typeset novels in InDesign at 1am. (I checked it the next day and it was fine, I promise.) I’ll make ebooks within a couple of hours (as long as I’m not drowning in endnotes. Then it’s a bigger deal), do research into an author’s web presence and backlist to best draft up a tailored, timetabled promotional plan, alter metadata and schedule Amazon promotions through Kindle Direct Publishing Select, guide authors through setting up their own websites and execute designs using my own Photoshop work and numerous other odd jobs. And then I’ll send off those pesky invoices.
Costing is always a tricky one because freelancers have to gauge their own value. The cocky risk over charging while the insecure can charge too little. Though my personality falls more into the latter camp I spent days researching ‘typical’ prices, comparing them against my own particular skillset and I finally compiled a list of rates that are reasonable but can at least pay the rent every month! The joy is that I can easily revise my rates as my skills and confidence expands and I make sure to reconsider them every couple of months.
I’ve been officially freelancing since September 2015 and still a typical day is hard to define. Because my skills are technically specific (in typesetting, ebook, and website creation particularly) the jobs themselves don’t vary hugely but the clients do. My clients include outsourcing publishers, authors (self-published and traditional), even people outside of publishing. They bring massive unpredictability and excitement to every single job. I never know what’s waiting in my inbox. That’s why I happily work into the wee hours. Freelancing is the best.