Editor and Client: Building a Professional Relationship

A Waddingham, Society for Editors and Proofreaders, 2015, 2nd edn, 30pp, £5 (pbk), ISBN 978 0 95631 649 3

Reviewed by Guy Manners

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I volunteered to review this title because – despite my nine years as a freelance and subsequent 2.5 years in the private sector – I still find client relationships hard to manage, especially given that so many of my and the company's clients have been and are overseas.

Although I have been associated with the SfEP for about ten years, this is the first SfEP Guide I have read.

Editor and Client is aimed at 'Joan', who has 'been freelancing as a proofreader for a few years'. Joan 'hasn't joined the SfEP', but one might add 'yet'. The premise of the guide is that Joan's relationship with her regular client 'seems one-sided'.

I believe that Joan and many of her peers would benefit immensely from Anne Waddingham's wisdom in the field of client relationships. It is an easy read, and I finished the whole text in less than an hour. But the booklet is more than a concise guide: it is a resource, and a source of resources.

The first advice Anne gives is 'be professional', which starts with thinking professionally, leading to acting professionally. As one would expect, however, the guide majors on communication and preparation for key communication with the client. Within that framework, the guide covers the areas of business promotion, pricing and negotiation, adhering to briefs, feedback, payment, motivation and work–life balance.

There are even lessons here for old hands like myself. I like the use of checklists – a valuable resource for any editor or proofreader. I take the point about not bombarding my clients with emails full of questions. Rechecking the brief before dispatching back to the client is also a valuable point.

Although Joan is not a member of the SfEP, this booklet certainly will push her in that direction, as many of the suggestions relate to interacting with the SfEP, and I imagine that 'contact[ing] the FirstAssist legal helpline' (p7) will not be a free option for non-SfEP members like Joan.

In summary, I would say that Editor and Client is a worthwhile read and valuable resource, especially for those in the early years of freelancing or struggling with client relationships. (It will also encourage you to consider reading other SfEP Guides.)

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