My editing/book indexing colleague and good friend from the far north of Scotland, Sara Donaldson, provided me with a nice prompt for today’s post. On Friday, she gave some great advice on renegotiating with clients when publishing schedules shift. Her article is located here; check it out.
In the twenty years I’ve been indexing and editing, many changes have occurred in the publishing industry, but the one that affects me the most on a weekly basis is the floating calendar that Sara writes about. In spite of (or perhaps because of) fancy book design software and instant emailing of manuscript copy, the timeline for publishing books seems to have stretched out and become much more unpredictable. Used to be when one of my clients told me that a book would be ready for proofreading or indexing, they were normally not more than a week off one way or another, but, no more. Books and manuals can be promised for delivery in February and not show up until May (or even later!).
Sara talks about renegotiating rates or due dates (or just working the extra hours) in order to accommodate clients’ shifting schedules. I’ve done those things plenty of times, but I have a couple of things in my back pocket that help with this issue.
First is that I request at least a two-week turnaround for longer projects like bigger books for editing or for any book indexing work. This way I have some flexibility if multiple clients’ schedules shift around, since it doesn’t normally take that long to do a single project.
The other tool I have up my sleeve is a great relationship with an indexing-editing-taxonomy partnership I belong to called Potomac Indexing, LLC (PI). I joined the partnership last year, and it’s been a great resource for me to get more work, but also to be able to find backup for when my clients’ schedules go wonky on me. In addition to the other four partners, I also have access to the fifty-plus independent associates that the partnership calls on to cover specialized indexing fields (like legal or medical) and handle larger book or series projects. PI makes for a great resource in these ever-changing publishing times.
And if you aren’t going “on holiday” as Sara would put it but have a shift in schedule that leaves you with down time, check out these recommendations from Ruth Thaler-Carter in her post over at An American Editor.