Tip of the week: Setting editing expectations


When a client is taken aback


I recently copyedited a 4-page sample of a book-length manuscript for a client using tracking changes. I wanted to show him what kinds of errors I would correct because he really had no idea what was involved.
When he saw red corrections in every single line of the sample, he was not, as I had hoped, pleased, but quite angry. He said he would get back to me, and of course he never did.

Posted on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 4:02pm

Erin Brenner's picture

Clients Who Don’t Get It

Erin Brenner

I'm sorry that happened to you! It can be a shock for a client to see all the changes--particularly when they show up in red (Microsoft: why can't we control the Track Changes color?).

Sometimes I'll prep a potential client by warning them that it looks like a lot of changes and then explaining how small the changes are or that many of them are really just one category of change (e.g., a word consistently spelled wrong in a document).

However, there will always be clients who just don't get it. They don't really want editing; they want to be told how wonderful their manuscript is. They don't see the help editors give; they see their English teacher telling them how bad they are. This is when a sample edit is valuable: you've lost the time in doing the sample, but you're not dealing with an irate client who is demanding a refund after you've done all the work.

If the client can't wrap their mind around what editing is and what it looks like after you've tried to educate them, then good riddance. They wouldn't be happy with any work you did.

Posted on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:41pm