Channelling the flow.

Professional editing is vital but, taken in a single chunk, it represents a financial cost that many independent authors (and indeed some independent presses) balk at. This is a problem because – even if the core work is good – it can be undermined by plot inconsistencies, lacklustre characterisation, or simple technical errors. You may save money on the project but the cost of cutting corners can be huge.

Your submissions keep getting rejected? How will you get your work out there?

You’re struggling to get reviews, or find them uncomplimentary? How will you sell your books?

If finance is a problem for you then it becomes a problem for me too, as a freelance editor. After all, how can I earn a living if the people who most need me can’t get the budget together for my services? I’ve mentioned before that my aim is to make this a full-time career. That means channelling the flow of freelance income into a steadier stream.

Tricky, eh?

Well, I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty good solution: an Affordable Payment Plan for clients.

I know plenty of people who do something similar in order to save up for Christmas each year, or to book themselves a proper holiday for once. It’s tough to save these days but if it’s important enough then the best thing seems to be keeping it separate from your normal finances. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’ve answered some of the most obvious questions below, but I’d be happy to talk things through if other questions or scenarios occur to you.

How does this plan work then?

It’s simple. Let’s say you’ve begun work on a manuscript and you know you’ll want it edited once it’s done. Money’s tight, so you’d choose a small, affordable amount to pay regularly and we’d set up a schedule, building your savings up to cover the cost of the job. We’re just talking about a standing order here, nothing fancy. I would send you e-receipts as each payment arrives, and also provide you with a running total to help you keep track of your funds. I’d only begin work on the editing job once you’re all saved up and tell me you’re ready to go.

Sounds good, but why give you the money? I’ve got my own savings account.

And I’m happy for you to use it. Whatever works for you. The Affordable Payment Plan is there as a solution for people who may be struggling to do so.

It works as a psychological aid as much as anything. Every writer faces moments where they lose faith in their ability, or in their current project. In those moments of darkness it is perilously easy to burn through your savings on short-term comforts. Pre-paying for your long-term goal will help you avoid those temptations and keep you on the path. Seeing your savings balance grow should also help focus your creative efforts and the determination to get that manuscript finished, edited, and soaring out into the world.

What’s the catch?

There is no catch. You’re not tied in. The benefits for me are mainly psychological too. I’m trying to reach the tipping point where I feel able to quit the day-job in order to work as The Fine-toothed Comb full-time. That’s a scary jump to make in this economic climate. Building a portfolio of pre-paying clients will help me plan my work schedule over a much longer period of time and – critically – to begin forecasting my income instead of working on an ad hoc basis.

I get that, but money’s tight for everyone. What if I can’t always afford it?

Firstly, I would strongly encourage you to only pay what you can realistically afford to save on a regular basis, even if that means it’ll take longer than you hope. Secondly, emergencies do crop up for everybody I recognise that. Rest assured, I’m no ogre. If your situation changes, just get in touch with me. We can talk through any necessary adjustments such as putting your payment plan on pause for one-off situations, or else reducing the amounts you pay regularly.

What if I change my mind entirely? I might need all that cash.

You might indeed. Situations change. In recognition of that fact, I make the following commitment: if you instruct me to cancel the editing job before I’ve begun to work on it, I’ll undertake to repay your money in full within 24 hours of receiving your request. (Remember, I won’t start to work on your project until you’ve given me specific instructions to do so. You are in control.)

And if you have already begun working on the job but I still need to cancel?

I would have to charge you for the work that I have already completed but I would refund the rest, no questions asked.

Does all this sound pretty interesting to you? Do you have any questions for me, or any other feedback?
Drop a comment, e-mail me at dion@thefinetoothed.com or ping me a message on social media.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dion.

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