Jennifer Lawler

Kara, regarding time frames, it does depend a bit on the publisher and the title, but, yes, typically CE has about two weeks and DE three to four. CE can get compressed if anyone else is late (author didn’t return the DE round by deadline) so it is not surprising to see that shrunk to one week, though I wouldn’t say that is necessarily common (some cushion is typically built into the schedule).

Six weeks is probably a lot longer than you’ll ever have working with a publisher unless for some reason a contracted title is turned in early and there’s a lull that allows the AE to get it into the production cycle ahead of schedule.

It’s typically not the turnaround time that is the problem for most freelancers, it’s the lack of notice. So, it’s Thursday afternoon and you’re being asked if you can start a project on Monday that will be due in two weeks. If you try to keep your schedule open for just such requests, you’ll starve to death but if you pack your schedule full, you’ll have to turn down projects–which is okay if you do it once or twice but if it keeps happening the publisher will find someone else.

When I started working for publishers, I was typically writing my own long-term projects and so it was easier for me to set aside a long-term project to work on a short-term project for a few weeks. It would have been a lot more of a juggle if I had had a lot of short-term deadlines into which I had to integrate another short-term deadline.

Once you’ve worked with a publisher for a while, you will often be able to get on top of the ebb and flow (some months are always busier for publishers than other months) and often the AE will alert you about projects they would like you to take on.

In the meantime, it can be a bit of a scramble!