Quanie Miller writes some of the most insightful, interesting blogs on the topic of writing that I've seen. If you don't already follow her, do it now. I'll wait...
Yesterday, Quanie posted a blog titled Why You Should Never Pay an Editor or Book Cover Designer Upfront. The blog covered an issue I know all too well...because I've been on both sides of it.
No, I'm not a cover designer. I'm not an editor, either.
I'm a freelance writer. But regardless of our medium, freelancers all face the same risk. A certain amount of trust is required from time to time. We work and hope the client will be honest enough to pay us.
In the instance Quanie referenced in her blog, an editor accepted payment in full up front to edit a writer's manuscript. Partway through the job, the editor decided she couldn't complete the work and simply returned the manuscript, unedited, and kept the money.
Since this is an issue many of us will encounter from time to time, here are a few things to keep in mind when you hire someone, whether it's to design your cover or to edit your book.
Tip #1: Never pay up front. As Quanie suggested, pay in installments, with final payment not arriving until the work is complete.
Tip #2: Use a protected platform. I work two ways: through Elance or through referrals from other clients. With Elance, the client puts the money in "escrow," only to be released when payment is complete.
Tip #3: Sign contracts. Samples like this one can get you started. Be sure to outline the compensation and what will be expected in exchange for that payment.
Tip #4: Most importantly, whether you're hiring a freelancer or planning to work as one, listen to your instincts. If something doesn't seem right, end it before you get too far in to back out.