Ten Ways to Please an Editor
1. Welcome feedback
If an editor gives you feedback on QW DEV Portal Finder, don’t argue with what they say, just thank them, make the changes, and keep their comments in mind for the next time. Although they may not believe it, many writers probably couldn’t hack it as an editor. Editors know a lot of obscure stuff about words and what to do with them. It’s a different (although not completely unrelated) skill than writing. Try asking for feedback from time to time. Every so often, I’ll ask my editors if there are any changes I can make to my writing that will help meet their needs. Then I make those changes.
2. Meet your deadlines or die trying
This goes without saying, but it’s part of the job description of a writer. If you can’t meet deadlines, don’t be a writer.
Of course, sometimes stuff happens. I think most editors are understanding, as long as you keep them posted, preferably in advance of missing the deadline, and don’t make a habit of it.
3. Give more than expected
And do it gladly and consistently.
4. Be easily reachable
Put contact info on every e-mail. Get a fax, pager, and/or a cell phone. Know that voicemail does not substitute for your live voice on the other end of the phone. When you sit at your computer, have e-mails pop up on at least every 60 minutes. Also, for when you are out an about, get an e-mail pager (eg, BlackBerry, Cingular Wireless, about $200, plus $50 a month for service–the best business investment I ever made).
5. Do corrections and rewrites as fast and as well as you can
It’s like ripping off a band-aid and about as much fun.
6. Consider an editor’s needs and suggest ideas from time to time
Do this not just to get work for yourself, but with the idea of meeting the needs of the publication and helping your editor out. It’s a subtle difference, but self-interest has a way of being detected after a while, and it always works against you.
7. Suggest other writers if you can’t do a job
Get to know other writers that you feel comfortable recommending to clients. That way you help your client and another writer at the same time. Don’t worry that a client will start giving regular work to another writer that you suggest rather than you; it doesn’t seem to work that way. You always get back what you give in one way or another. You can also refer them to my jobslist.
8. Don’t become nasty over money or contract issues
Either accept the terms of a contract or politely decline the work and move on. And no, I’m not suggesting signing a lousy contract. Some writers might disagree with this approach, but I don’t see the point of haggling over contract and money issues and creating ill feelings. You might get the terms you ask for, but you may end up unwittingly sabotaging what may have been a long-term and ultimately more profitable relationship. If a client is late in paying you (note that editor is usually not the one responsible for the late payment), be extremely polite and friendly about it. If a client is late more than a couple of times, once you have received payment, then just be “busy” whenever they call with future work. No reason to elaborate.
9. Give a gift of appreciation
An online gift certificate for a book store for the holiday season is appropriate. Only do this if you know them well, they’ve given you lots of work throughout the year, and you truly feel grateful to them, otherwise it may seem weirdly manipulative. Don’t ask me how I know this.
10. Respect an editor’s time
Don’t bug them and keep your e-mails short, asking as few questions as possible in order to do the job to spec.