Notes on negotiating rates for
Design

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for design work. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations.

  • Designs are copyright works, though the rules are slightly different to those for words and pictures. The suggested rates are for use of a design in one publication.
  • The rates are suggested as minima from which freelances will negotiate upward according to their experience and specialist knowledge and the value of the work.
  • It is vital that both sides agree on a list of precisely what is expected and what the rate will be for unexpected work. Elements that may appear in this list include:
    • preparation of sketches and mock-ups;
    • meetings to discuss, amend and decide among these;
    • interviewing editors, sub-editors and production editors to determine copy-flow and what they call each design element;
    • creating word-processor style-sheets using this information;
    • creating DTP program templates;
    • creating scripts to import styled copy into these templates;
    • testing and debugging all the above;
    • training for editors, sub-editors and production editors;
    • revisions to cope with the inevitable differences between what they say they do and what they do do;
    • revisions to the appearance of the publication (oh, that!) now the publisher has seen it; and
    • re-testing and re-debugging the above.
  • Clients who use exotic software should either give the designer the use of a workstation in the office that runs it, or pay for the designer to acquire their own licence to use it.
  • The rates for shifts do not include paid time off.
  • Freelances who are registered for VAT will add it to every invoice.

Book designers obviously have fewer people to consult - unless they're setting up a series with multiple editors. If they bid to produce ready-for-press files, they may have to consult only themselves.

More advice and links...
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. Comments to ffg@londonfreelance.org please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.