Reedsy has spent 2017 meeting with hundreds of professionals from publishers large and small. Our discussions have, for a large part, revolved around the growing freelance economy and how it has been impacting the internal processes and structures of publishing houses. These conversations inspired us to produce The Lean Publisher
, a white paper about the changing publisher-freelancer relationship—and how publishers can leverage the growing pool of freelance professionals to boost in-house creativity. The report concludes with some predictions for how the publisher-freelancer relationship may continue to evolve. Here are three of them.
1 An increasing number of publishers’ operations structured around freelancers
This prediction was galvanized by our talks with independent non-fiction publisher Callisto Media, where the entire book process relies on freelancers—from authors and illustrators to developmental and copy editors to proofreaders and indexers to cover designers. Based in Silicon Valley, Callisto thinks this reflects the new economy of working with a variety of individuals—a business modelled more on companies like Uber and Airbnb than traditional publishing—and that more publishers will work like this in the future.
2 Teams specifically designed to manage freelancers
The boom in the freelance economy has met its own growing pains—specifically around the legal implications of hiring contractors. That can be seen in a sweep of lawsuits being filed against companies like Uber, Handy and FedEx. It is not hard to imagine that businesses like publishers that frequently rely on freelancers will start to establish procurement departments or dedicated HR resources. The purpose of these departments will not only be to liaise with and onboard freelancers, but to ensure that no worker misclassification occurs.
3 More formalized training for freelancers
When hiring a freelancer, employers typically forego the business training that an employee develops through years of working for a publishing company in-house. In light of this, we predict that publishers may begin to expect accreditation of the freelancers they work with, whether obtained through an in-house programme or via a course that certifies graduates as publishing-industry freelancers. This is already the case at Pan Macmillan, which asks potential freelancers for up-to-date CVs and industry training and accreditation of some sort—usually courses run by the Publishing Training Centre.
You can read more speculation about how the growing freelance economy will shift the publishing industry in The Lean Publisher white paper. Download it for free here
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