Editor and Client: Building a professional relationship
by Anne Waddingham (London: SfEP, 2008): 35pp (pbk), £5.50 (inc p&p), ISBN 978 0 0517527 5 3.
Reviewed by Michèle Clarke
This booklet was reviewed jointly with Developing a Marketing Strategy: Cost-effective ways to market your editorial business (now issued as Marketing Yourself: Strategies to promote your editorial business).
These two booklets have been added to SfEP's new stable of publications. I know we dabbled in publishing way back in our first years and found it too expensive to continue with professionally designed and printed books. With the ease of short-run printing these days, it is good to know we are trying again. Of course, it is difficult to review books from one's own society – one tends to be biased! So, with my rose-tinted glasses on, I got to grips with the subject matter, style and printing, and hoped I could be disinterested.
Anne's book is aimed at all of us who hope or claim to be professional in our dealings with clients. This should involve:
- helping the editor give you a decent brief
- treating every conversation with a client as an opportunity to sell yourself regarding other aspects of your business
- checking the brief carefully when it arrives, along with the terms and conditions if any
- assessing the job properly to obviate later problems
- estimating time and fees and learning to negotiate successfully
- not doing more than you're asked before discussing problems with your client
- trying to get feedback.
Anne offers help in getting paid and keeping motivated, trying to enjoy life despite it all. There is also an appendix on making sure you don't fall foul of the tax office.
Both booklets are good introductions to their subjects and will be of great help to someone trying to get their freelance business off the ground, or good reminders to some of us who think we have been there and done that!
It is always difficult to write perfectly when you are fronting a society such as ours. People's eyes tend to be just that bit more critical, but reviewers mustn't shirk from the job, drop standards or be too kind. So I shall make a couple of comments. One is purely on the production side – they do look very 'bookletty' and home-produced, with a card cover scarcely covering the inside stapled A4 pages (but this is not too much of a problem if the aim is to sell just to members). Second is the question of whether our writing should be as informal as it is. Should rules be relaxed to allow, for example, 'who' as an object rather than 'whom'? Petty comments possibly. I can't fault the subject matter.