Over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to interview several dozen publishing freelancers about their business. On the bright side, publishers are outsourcing more work to them to offset headcount reductions over the last few years. But on the flip side, freelancers are facing more requests to work for less than their standard fee. A lot less.
The same goes for entrepreneurial authors, seeking to hire talent to help them self-publish. They often don't have much capital to invest in their book, and negotiate freelance rates aggressively. While it's only a straw poll on my part, discounting is happening almost half the time for all but the busiest freelancers.
What's the motivation? "We'll be able to give you more business in the future." Yeah, right. More discounted business in the future. In my experience, I've cut my fees on that promise too often, never seeing them restored in future contracts. The windfall never comes in, and the budgets only get leaner over time.
And then there's the nagging feeling we have in a discount situation: We aren't worth as much today as we were yesterday. True or not, it still weighs on our psyche.
At Net Minds, we have a solution for that: Profit Sharing. If an author has a limited budget, but a great idea and platform to market it, they should share the upside with their team members. This is how the Silicon Valley startup scene runs, where early stage companies can't afford pay their talent industry-standard wages. They issue stock options, which not only are fair, they motivate the team to act like owners and take the long view.
In our case, by cutting freelancers into the profit, today's discount might lead to tomorrow's top earning project. This royalty calculator helps our authors and freelancers put together cash + profit sharing deals they can live with.
Sure, outside of our system it's hard to negotiate and then collect on a profit sharing deal. That's why we've created this company. But even if you don't work on a Net Minds project, you should change the conversation from "future business" to "future profits" to see if you are really being respected for your work. In the future, we believe that freelancers will actually seek these type of hybrid arrangements to build the same passive income streams authorsa and publishers have enjoyed for decades.
Check out the Fall Net Minds Select to see if there an editorial, design, marketing or media relations opportunity in your future.
Tim is a bestselling author and former Yahoo! executive with a mission to disrupt the traditional publishing and self-publishing industries and share knowledge with authors looking to publish and market high-quality books.Follow @sanderssays