The World of ‘Free’lance

Semantics can be tricky. The meaning of a word as defined by one, may be different to someone else.

I believe this is true of the word freelance.

To me, freelance is an employment path. The prefix being the operative term – freedom. Working freelance, I can work the hours I choose and be as creative as I wish with my company. Choosing freelance employment, I am looking to escape the monotony of working for a hive-mind corporation. This is more difficult for artists than others, believe it or not.

The downside of freelance employment – the sacrifice of certain benefits. Primarily, an hourly wage. That is what I believe, but I’m learning that for some freelance services, the word freelance means one is free yet still expecting to collect the same hourly wage. This seems like an oxymoron to me and certainly doesn’t fit into the freelance model as I understand it.

Cactus Moon Publications started out as Kal-Ba Publishing. An author and I decided to form a company modeled after a new capitalist idea. Collaboration vs Dictation. Certainly, our idea was risky. No collaborative model has been able to withstand the tidal wave of the current capitalist philosophy. Our idea sprang from the three-sided triangle or pyramid. All sides are equal, if not, the shape is no longer equal and no longer a pyramid. Our sole income would be made through our hard work and fair play with others.

Shortly after Kal-Ba was established, I lost my partner. In a very competitive and suspicious world, I sat on a life preserver with two authors; wondering whether I should sink or swim. If I chose to swim, it would be very difficult and risky. If I chose to jump, the authors will be let down and my reputation damaged.

Though a traumatic experience, I have learned much. I am a survivor above all else so I chose to swim. In this process, I’ve learned many lessons. One – freelance services are not what they seem and as an author please shop around.

My first experience with the current freelance model came when I sat in negotiation with an illustrator. My authors were debut and I, a brand new publisher with a maverick model. During the negotiations, the illustrator remarked, “I’m taking quite a cut in pay for this. Thirty dollars an hour is pretty low.”

Wait. An hourly wage? I didn’t know this was included. I want to pay for illustrations, not the hours it takes to create. And, who decides the hourly wage? Out of curiosity and frankly, shock, I asked what he was used to being paid. His response was equally stunning. “When I worked for the last company, I made fifty an hour.” Again, freelance. Are you working for that company now? And what makes you believe as a freelance illustrator you should be guaranteed the income you received when working for a large company? Maybe I am naïve, but I believe this expectation is crazier than starting a grassroots company, dwarfed by hundreds of others.

Authors are not paid by the hour. If they were, only the wealthy could afford to read their books. Truth. I guess this doesn’t occur to most as they read a delicious story or a very inspiring self-help. Including freelance illustrators and editors.

A good novel requires collaboration. Creativity is made more beautiful when others agree to offer their special talent. Nothing is free and no one should expect something for nothing. Authors should not expect services for free and freelancers should not expect the same hourly wage they received while working for The Man. I believe this and I am not ashamed or even worried it will affect my reputation.

CMP works with amazing illustrators, editors, and other collaborators all working for the same goal. Promotion and repeat clients. This is the Spirit of our company and as such, we will not compromise this model for anyone.

Listed on the bottom of our website is a tab for Collaborators. A list of collaborators who are working freelance for others as well. This is CMP’s idea of giving back. This is collaboration not dictation. A model where everyone shares to enhance the art of another.

Feel free to peruse our collaborators and connect for your services. I don’t put just anyone’s name on that list.

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