I'm interested in this because (a) I occasionally write for Harcourt and know the changes will somehow affect me, and (b) industry-wide acquisitions and mergers like this continue to change the nature of freelance work for all of us.
With each similar shift in the business, I notice that:
- The freelancer (writer, editor, illustrator, designer, etc.) gets further removed from editorial discussions and decisions.
- Frequent staff turnover and changing in-house processes make it increasingly difficult for the freelancer to establish ongoing relationships with staff contacts.
- It's common for the new regime to institute individual project/sweeping product line changes to match new editorial philosophies and publishing goals. So, existing projects get shuffled, shelved, or scrapped.
- Publishers make personnel cuts and lose valuable staff expertise.
- "Liberated" staff compete for freelance jobs or leave the industry altogether.
- Freelancer fees take another hit.