Make Editors and Clients Want More.

October 31, 2008

Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. ~ William Shakespeare

Happy Halloween to everyone! Halloween is definitely one of my favourite times of the year.  I remember as a child lugging a pillowcase over my back, grunting and swaying like some hunchback, determined to accumulate enough sweets to give myself a sugar-high for weeks to come.  I wish you all many tricks and treats.

Today I wanted to write a small post about what I have learned to date in establishing strong relationships with editors and keeping them coming back for more.  Feel free to comment and add to the list!

  1. Go the extra mile. Editors and clients appreciate writers who make their work easier.  This means you may have to extend yourself a bit.  Try your best to always get enough information about the writing project up front so you aren’t constantly harassing them for more details.  Understand the requirements ahead of time so there’s less editing and revision in the long run.  Make sure your piece is polished when submitted so your editor doesn’t have to almost entirely re-write your words.  Sloppiness will get you nowhere.  Try to work as independently as possible so your editor or client doesn’t feel like they have to make extra time to give you guidance and support.  If a photograph is required for a project and you’ve got the basic skills to do this yourself, why not take the initiative and provide a photograph yourself so an extra person doesn’t have to be hired to do the job?  Not only do you earn their appreciation for cutting down on their workload, but you can make some extra cash for handling both elements of the project.
  2. Be open to suggestions. If you’re writing for a living, part-time or full-time, then obviously you’re talented.  Sure, sometimes a client or editor makes a suggestion for revision that makes you gnash your teeth together and contemplate sticking your eyeballs with two straws and firing them like spitballs.  You’re the professional writer, after all.  You know best, right?  Maybe.  Whether or not a project is better the way you imagine it, if the hand that feeds you has something else in mind, take their needs and wants into consideration.  This is priority.  If you really fear that it will negatively impact the finished product, discuss this openly with them, state your reasons, and try to seek middle ground.  But never, never, never downplay their input.
  3. Don’t be lazy – respect deadlines. Unless you’ve been incapacitated by some finger-eating flesh disease or zombies have invaded your city, always make sure you get a project in by its deadline.  In fact, getting it in a day or two in advance will make editors kiss the ground you walk on and clients come back with more projects in the future.  Life happens and occasionally you may have to request an extension, but only do this under dire circumstances and do it well in advance so editors or clients have time to rearrange their own schedules if necessary.  If missing deadlines becomes a regular occurrence, you may soon find that nobody wants to hire you and you have a reputation that limits your opportunities.
  4. Always be professional. Don’t treat editors or clients like best friends by being overly casual.  You are running a business and should therefore conduct yourself accordingly.  However, this doesn’t mean you can’t meet for coffee on occasion or send greeting cards on special holidays.  You want to be friendly and approachable, but you also want to be taken seriously after all.
  5. Suck up…but just a little. Overt ass-kissing is never pretty.  You don’t want to come across as pitiful and desperate.  But you still want to show gratitude and appreciation for the business your editors and clients provide you.  A compliment here and there always helps.  Keeping the lines of communication flowing even when no current projects are taking place is important too.  If you show interest in your editors and clients, they will return it, and this increases the likelihood of landing gigs.    


  1. I like to give them a little lagniappe (something extra…like maybe a sidebar of statistics, a quiz, etc), which is really a combination of elements of your #1 and #5. Nice post.

  2. That’s a great idea Angie! Thanks for contributing.

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