Sunday, November 13, 2005

Turning Down Work--Do What's Right for You

[Caveat: I am a hobby-lancer and do not need to write to survive. The information in this entry is geared toward those writers/artists in similar positions, so take this for what it's worth to you.]

It's not easy to turn down work, but sometimes it has to be done. Once you're "in" with a company, they tend to funnel more work your way. The unforunate part of this is that if you get "in" with multiple companies you'll eventually bite off more than you can chew. Suddenly your freelancing schedule is anything but free, to say nothing of those random open calls which catch your interest and you want to apply for.

As a hobby-lancer I can pick and choose my assignments. Part of the selection process is knowing what's right for me and the other part is knowing how it fits into my schedule. I don't want to spend every waking moment writing (as I have over the last couple years). My name is "out there" to my satsifaction that working like a Benedictine illuminator isn't necessary anymore. As to the first point, when Neal mentioned a few months back about hooking my up with the Clothing project, I immediately frowned at the screen. It's not that I thought the topic was bad, just that it wasn't right for me. But, as I detest turning away work, I followed along. Mistake.

I've been nothing but happy with my Dark Quest relationship and I hope to continue writing for them (especially since they're putting out my masterwork--Temporality) but I had to email Neal today that I was off this project. With the holidays right around the corner, a new MPM adventure, my new Behind the Spells series, and discussion for a new Freeport adventure (oh, did I say that out loud?), the Clothing project just doesn't fit into the puzzle.

So how does back out of work with some kind of grace? I don't have definitive answers since I don't make a habit of it but here's some criteria to consider:
* Contract: Is there a signed contract for that project? If so, you're locked in unless you and the publisher can come to an agreement.
[the criteria below assume lack of contract]
* Due Date: How far are you from the assignment's due date? If less than a month, you might want to just stick it out if you've already begun.
* Number of Writers: If you are the sole author, opting out is easier sooner than later (although that's true of any situation, really). You've got more leeway if there are multiple authors. Just be certain that at least a month's notice is given. As a goodwill gesture, hand in whatever materials you've written up free of charge.
* The Price: Is this assignment really worth it monetarily for you? If you need this money to pay the rent, then you need to sit down and finish it (assuming the publisher pays in a timely fashion). If not, backing out may cost you money but actually be better mentally.
* The Publisher: Is the publisher someone you want to maintain a working relationship with? This criteria really must be dealt with on a case by case basis. Are they easy going and willing to overlook your backing out? Are they a big company that cannot afford even minor setbacks to a busy schedule or are they more casual in their business plan? If the former, you're in trouble. If the latter, you should be in good shape to back out with some dignity.

That's it for now with my unsolicited advice. Oh, and my concerts went quite well this weekend, thanks for asking. ;)


Blogger Axel said...

Yeah, I know what you mean, I was hooked up with their (DQG) Lost Prehistorica project, and normally this wouldn't be my cup of tea, but I thought I better give it a chance, so as not to get on their bad side :) It was really hard work, but I think I came out on top.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*laughs* I love reading the blogs. This is for freelancers out there. Tell the publishers. They understand. Really.

We don't want to have someone not interested in the topic writing on it. Sooner or later in the work it will show. Sure a creative writer can write anything, but really the energy and focus involved in the work will show to your readers.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Daniel M. Perez said...

Good advice, Bret. As a freelancer, I could not agree with you more. As a publisher, it always sucks to have a freelancer back out of a project, but if done correctly, I think it is appreciated. A lack of interest in a project shows through and will only hurt the product in the end.

11:31 PM  

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