The ELT world is changing rapidly for everyone in it. For publishers, authors, materials developers, sales people, teachers and, eventually, for learners. New roles are springing up for developers, UX designers and product managers. Wherever you are in that pyramid, you’ve probably got questions.
Take the agony out of your problems and queries and ask ELTjam whatever’s on your mind. If we can’t help, we bet we know people that can. Feel free to add your own comments and advice!
Here’s our first letter from ‘ELT Author’ …
I’ve been an ELT author for years, often turning down work because there was such a continuous stream of freelance assignments from a variety of publishers. There almost weren’t enough hours in the day to get the work done but I always met deadlines and worked well with the editors.
Now I find myself without a single writing or editing assignment. Have I been blacklisted for some reason? Or is it that publishers have frozen production while waiting to see what happens with the whole switch to digital? They must still be putting out products of some kind, so who’s writing them?
Dear ELT Author,
You’re not the only one in this position and we think there are a couple of key reasons.
1. A lot of projects have been cancelled or are on hold while in-house training goes on to bring editors up to speed with new ways of working or entirely new types of product. They still need writers, but the nature of the writing work may change too. Tighter briefs, author teams, the need for using authoring tools rather than producing manuscript documents. The more you can skill up while work is quiet the better placed you’ll be to take on assignments when they come up.
2. Most of the big publishers have restructured, shifting people to different departments, scaling down other departments, making redundancies. It’s very likely that your old contacts have moved on and are no longer in a position to offer you work. Maybe they’re even freelancing themselves.
Start as if from scratch and find out who’s responsible for the kind of work you do. If you haven’t been to a conference for a while, this might be a good time to network. But there’s also no harm dropping your old contact a line through Linked In and finding out what they’re up to or who their replacement is. We know of authors who’ve done just that and ended up with paid work and a new contact.
If you had a good relationship with editors in the past, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve been blacklisted but publishers are wary of entering into contracts that are as binding as in the past. They seem to want to move away from royalties so, if you were a big ticket author on highly favourable contracts and perks, you might find that work is being offered to writers under different terms. Fees or even hourly rates are becoming common. Are you prepared to accept that?
One solution is to rethink the way you look at work. Maybe it doesn’t have to come from a publisher’s commission. Self published books and apps might be avenues to look into. So far, no one has made a huge splash with their own products, but someone has to be able to improve on Duolingo. Why not you? At the very least, you’ll learn a whole set of new skills like marketing and design that might get you work in the future.
Do you have your own advice you’d like to add?
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