Applying corporate wisdom to the freelance world: seminar on Independent Publishing


Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie “Wall Street” brought corporate investment banker jargon to the wider world.

Multinational corporations are often derided for their use of “corporate-speak”. But as a former employee of multinational corporations, I have come to appreciate the value of some aspects of corporate wisdom. Two examples I wanted to write about today are outcomes and deliverables.

I recently attended a seminar hosted by Big Smoke Writing Factory in Dublin. The seminar was about Independent Publishing and the facilitator was Vanessa O’Loughlin, founder of and The Inkwell Group, and influencer of a host of other literary activities and projects around Ireland.

To my delight, both the outcomes and deliverables of the seminar were excellent, and I met some lovely new fellow writers to boot.

Getting back to the corporate-speak. Freelancers pay for all training and professional development out of our own funds, so we need to make sure that we get a return on our investment. The most useful definition of ROI for freelancing purposes is that used in the financial world: “The money that a person or company earns as a percentage of the total value of his/her/its assets that are invested.”

The corporate world also teaches us that ROI in professional development is best measured in terms of the following two factors, one “hard” and one “soft”:

  • Outcomes (“soft”) – something changes for the better as a result of you attending the training course. For example, your knowledge of the subject matter increases, you feel equipped to take specific actions, or you have a new qualification. If nothing changes as a result of you attending the course, there were no positive outcomes, and your money and time have been wasted.
  • Deliverables (“hard”) – the specific, concrete things that were promised in the course description and that you take home with you at the end of the day. For example, a pile of useful notes or handouts (“useful” is key here – we all know the horror of taking home stacks of handouts we will never look at again); new practical skills; or a piece of work that you were guided in producing during the course.

For me, the outcomes of the Independent Publishing seminar were:

  • A solid grounding in the various aspects of independent publishing, both print and digital
  • Knowledge of and confidence in implementing the practical steps in independently publishing my writing work
  • Awareness of the increasing significance of independent publishing in the literary market

The deliverables were:

  • A careful selection of useful handouts
  • 15 pages of my own notes
  • Individual advice from Vanessa

So, my ROI on the seminar has been very satisfactory so far.

Of course, it’s too soon yet to know whether the seminar helped with the ultimate outcome: getting published.

I have been considering for some time whether I should release some of my stories as standalone publications. Short stories lend themselves particularly well to the digital format, as evidenced by the success of Kindle Singles. As well as that, Amazon’s digital book sales exceeded their print sales in the US for the first time last year, so the market for digital definitely exists.

I’ll be posting regular updates on my adventures in independent and digital publishing. Watch this space.

Posted on November 13, 2012, in Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Orla

    You delivered on the outcomes you promised with this blog. I’ll bear your advice in mind as I consider taking an editor’s course that will qualify me to be listed as an editor on websites that will ultimately get me work. Thanks.



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