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Monday, February 7, 2011

Five Things Your Editor Would Love to Hear

To succeed as a freelancer, you must be able to create and maintain relationships with a variety of others--editors, clients, sources, PR people, and even other writers. Yet writers often overlook the fact that what I call "client maintenance" is a large part of your job.

Think about it: if you're an editor and have your choice of freelancers who have similar writing/reporting skills, wouldn't you rather work with someone you like? Or at least helps make your job a little easier?

Here are five things every editor would love to hear. Why not work some into your repertoire?
  • "No problem." This is my standard response when an editor has a request, whether it's pushing up a deadline or asking me to revise a piece ASAP. As long as I can do it, I will. I may not be thrilled about having to do it, but I'm not sharing that fact with her.
  • "Thank you." It's basic manners to express gratitude. I thank my editors and clients for assignments. I send a quick email to say "thanks" when a check arrives. I let clients know I appreciate them--and the same goes for PR people who come through with a source in a pinch, and the sources themselves.
  • "Nice job." If I get to review galleys, I tell the editor the story looks great. Only in a few cases have I had editors butcher a story; almost always, their work makes my work read better. And I let them know that I recognize that.
  • "When would you like this by?" When an editor assigns a revision or asks me to adddress a few TKs, chances are she needs it ASAP. Asking her about her timeframe lets me answer with my standard "no problem," and then bust my butt to get it done.
  • "I understand." In some cases, when I ask for more money or to change a contract (say, from an all-rights one to a less restrictive version), the editor says no--because she's unable to pay me more or change the contract. I'm not going to chew her out over it--if it's not within her control, it's not within her control. I get it--so I let her know.

Get the idea? Taking a personable yet professional approach makes your clients happy--and that means they're more likely to become regulars.


  1. Love these! The one I use the most is this: "I'd be happy to." I mean it. And clients love it. :)

  2. Jan, I like yours too. I also say, "My pleasure" quite a bit. :)

  3. If an editor wants changes I always say "no problem" no matter what the changes are. And it is no problem for me - having the relationship is very important to me. Once in a while what I write, despite changes, doesn't fit what the editor is looking for - or their requirements have changed for one reason or another.

    I always tell them I am so sorry this doesn't fit their needs - empathy goes a long way in maintaining client relationships.

  4. Great list. I, too, have used "No problem" and the editor was thrilled. I get the feeling that many writers forget these professional courtesies.