71: Bankrupt British Freelancers

"What I want to tell you about is two publisher bankruptcies, a little whiskey and a lot of articles. Or should that be a lot of whiskey? I've left the names as is, since I'm telling you just the facts of what happened from my perspective. Not passing judgment on those involved. Everything contained within happened to me as is, with no embellishment - apologies if there's no three act structure - this is real life, chaps."

What happens when the check stop coming, and the editors stop answering your calls. Sandy Morris describes every writer's nightmare: publisher bankruptcy.

Bankrupt British Freelancers


As a freelancer who has been screwed so many times by the publishers, I can understand you very well. When any publication shows the first signs of an oncoming demise, it is the freelancers who first get the shaft. My only surprise is to see how our situations are similar. I'm living and working in Turkey, and I was expecting to see writer's rights better protected in England. Now I see, wherever you work, freelancer has no rights. :(

One of the main problems is the big delay between actual work and payment. By the time you get your first payment, you end up having been submitted material for 2-3 more issues. So even if they pay you regularly, they will always be owing you some good money, and for that money's sake, you'll continue to work. A vicious circle.

I'm sorry to say I do not recommend freelancing to anyone, anymore... When someone offers me some freelancing work, I run out of the office screaming, unless the offer comes from a very very trustable company.

Greetings from Istanbul, Levent

It still sounds pretty glamorous, though in a gritty, wouldn't-like-to-experience-it-but-how-cool-would-it-be-to-have-already-lived-it sort of way. In any case, it sounds as if the best way to go about it would be part-time, though.

The collapse of two publishers in a very short space of time was a low for many freelances here in the UK, but there was one positive thing to come out of it.

Rather than sit and bemoan their fate when Live collapsed, many of the freelances (including Sandy) got together and independently produced a CD magazine containing articles from the last issue of Retro Gamer magazine, which had been completed and at the printers when the money ran out.

Called 'Retro Survival' http://www.retrosurvival.co.uk it allowed the readers to see the last issue of the magazine, and the freelances to see at least some cash for what would have been the fifth issue without payment.

One year on and it has sold more than the most optimistic original estimates, although there are still a few copies available from the website, if anyone's interested, and provided readers and writers with an unexpected bonus before what looked like it might be a bleak Christmas.

This is the reality of the translation industry if you are freelancer: some clients pay, and some clients don't. The reasons why clients don't pay can vary. So protect yourself by requiring prepayment from direct clients.

Any company that has multiple negative reviews or a medium to low rating has had some problems meeting its payment obligations or in interacting professionally, transparently, or fully with their freelancers, and you should not work for that company until you notice an improvement.



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wow that's bad, it's made me seriously think about aspirations of writing. I'd figured freelance was the way to go but to supplement existing income, and that's completely validated my fears.
It's mad that with any other type of employment that if you were not paid for services rendered you could take them to court for remunerations!


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