Choosing the right outsourcing resource for your publishing projects

Maintaining quality publishing whilst outsourcing work to various third parties is a concern for every publisher. A good freelancer or packager will take this requirement as seriously as their clients but how can publishers make the right choice of resource for their outsourced projects? A recent Just Content whitepaper in collaboration with BookMachine, looked at exactly this issue:

It is very important for publishers that they can safely rely on their out of house colleagues to uphold the standards of the company and so the choice of which freelancers/packagers to use should not be undertaken lightly. Lib Wright Editorial Director, Further Education & Vocational Publishing at Hodder Education explains how important it is to them; ‘We need our freelancers to take full responsibility without using the in-house project manager as a conduit for every discussion, or to make every decision. We need to trust that they can make those decisions on our behalf. We also try to avoid outsourcing projects which require close liaison with key stakeholders where our reputation could be damaged by errors made.’

As a manager tasked with outsourcing, a key consideration might be whether to enlist an individual freelancer or to engage with a packager. This might well depend on an individual business’s infrastructure and how well placed the business is to manage either scenario at a particular time.

Working directly with an individual freelancer can give managers more control over briefs and changes and puts them directly in contact with the person doing the work. It can be a straightforward way to build a relationship and to develop and coach an individual.

However, the best freelancers have a wide client base and need the widest access to opportunities. While any good freelancer will want to do their best to support a key client, they will, for their own business needs, have to accept work as and when it suits them, meaning that should your project be delayed, your freelancer is more likely to accept other work than wait to work on yours. Timing can be an obstacle when working with individual freelancers, as often the most sought-after talent is booked out far in advance.

Alternatively, a strategic relationship with a packager allows managers to forward plan outsourcing a higher volume of work in advance, thinking less about individual freelancers for isolated tasks and more about how to access the best match of resource for a wider range of projects and activities. Often a packager has access to additional capacity and specialist resources, which an inhouse publishing team doesn’t have the time to cultivate. A packager may also be better placed to manage unforeseen challenges, such as sickness and time of for personal reasons.

Understandably, maintaining high standards of quality is at the forefront when choosing who to outsource to. But there are also other factors to consider and these are also explored in the Just Content whitepaper which you can download for free here.