1) What do you offer and who do you work with?
My main areas of focus are Higher Education and Further Education; I have worked with many global publishing companies in Europe and Australia.
I offer a range of publishing services in print and digital publishing including:
- Project management
- Structural Editing
- Market Research
2) What’s your background/experience and what made you make the move to freelancer?
I have over 20 years of experience of working in the publishing industry and have worked for Pearson and Cengage Learning. I started work as an Editorial Assistant then became an Editor, Development Editor, Acquisitions Editor and have also managed a team of Development Editors. For the last 8 years I have worked as a freelancer.
I decided to become a freelancer as I wanted the flexibility of working for myself across a wide range of different companies. Six months after becoming a freelancer in the UK I relocated to Australia and have been fortunate to maintain working for companies in the UK as well as here in Australia over the course of the last 8 years.
3) What is your greatest achievement so far? What is the best thing about freelancing for you?
The versatility for me is the best thing about freelancing as well as being able to work on a wide range of different projects. As a freelancer you aren’t pigeonholed in one particular subject area so the opportunities are as great as you wish to make them. You never stop learning as a freelancer as the projects are so diverse and wide ranging.
The greatest achievement for me is making a difference to student learning; being involved from projects ground up gives me the opportunity to truly influence and shape their learning. I particularly enjoy seeing the text book in its published form or the digital product I have helped to craft.
I have cultivated work from various publishing companies across Europe and Australia and am deeply involved with day to day decisions on these projects. As a freelancer in the past you were often seen as an outsider, but with so much work now outsourced in the publishing field, you feel a real team player.
4) What are the challenges you face as a freelancer?
The biggest challenge as a freelancer is managing the work flow and securing ongoing work. It’s either feast or famine as a freelancer so it’s really about being flexible with the work you take on as well as being realistic with what you can achieve in the time frames.
Clear briefs and deadlines are incredibly important so you as the freelancer and the publisher know what is expected of one another.
Adaptability is also the key to freelance work. Change and variety is part of freelancing and it’s what makes it interesting.
5) What’s changing within your area of freelancing, and how do you see the role of freelancers in this area developing?
I am currently based in Australia and work for companies in both Europe and Australia. The increase in technology has made this possible particularly over the last 5 years. The ever increasing pressure on publishing has led to the increase in outsourcing which traditionally would have been carried out in house. I suspect that this will continue over the next 5-10 years as well.
The increasing change in how students learn is also forcing change in how publishing companies work. It’s not traditionally just about the text book anymore but also the digital components that come with the texts. I see freelancers becoming much more involved with the ‘blended learning’ package and the associated resources that go with the traditional text.
6) What tips would you give to someone wanting to go into/who’s new to freelancing?
Build up as much experience and contacts in house before making the move to freelancing. Networking is incredibly important as is perseverance, not all projects that are discussed always come into fruition so keep in regular contact with key players to make sure you’re in a position to take on work as and when it is offered.
Be prepared for the incredibly busy periods as well as the times when it’s deathly quiet. Its hard work with the anti social hours and the unpaid holidays but overall the flexibility wins hand down!
This is a guest interview from Melody Dawes. Melody has over 15 years of education publishing experience and is the Managing Director of Just Content, a freelance services consultancy working mainly with education publishers.