A writer buddy of mine called the other day to discuss a possible new client. She was feeling uneasy and by the time she described her interactions with him I could see why. I got to thinking about the kinds of clients I turn down. They include:
- Clients who won’t or can’t even come close to my price. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was my own value as a writer. I know what I bring to the project and I know I’m worth it. I do try to leave this person with both a reality check and some suggestions, but that’s just to make me feel good.
- Those who offer percentages only or expect deep discounts for percentages, or free workshops, etc. I’ve never really won on participation deals. The jury is still out on one – at least that book did make it to a publisher. I’m taking a small percentage of another because I’ve seen the marketing plan and believe the author can implement it effectively. We’ll see. In both cases, however, I didn’t work for free. In fact I charged enough so if I don’t make another nickel I won’t feel I should have charged more. I understand the risk.
- Clients who have a belief system radically different from mine. Since to do a decent job ghostwriting I have to duplicate the person who hires me, if we see the world in largely different ways, I can’t make it work. I don’t mean we have to see eye to eye on everything. But there has to be enough commonality so we can work well together, not distracted by outside issues.
- Those who have impossible deadlines. I probably can’t complete a book in 30 days, not a good one anyway. As a ghostwriter I know that just getting the material passed back and forth between us adds time.
- No deadline at all is, in my experience, also a major warning sign. Over time I’ve been surprised at how many people will invest thousands of dollars yet drop the project before we’re finished. I now look for people who have some determination and a firm timeline.
- High maintenance clients. These can be hard to spot in advance; clues include an insistence on instant messaging, a demand for my cell phone number, their feeling we have to meet face to face for several hours a week, the assumptions I’ll work weekends and take calls at dinner time.
- Any potential client that causes me an uneasy gut feeling, or a sense I probably don’t want to work with them. I’ve come to trust my intuition. I’ve learned that by seeing the messy results when I don’t.
What I want is a relationship with my clients where we both feel good about the project when it’s done. Screening clients helps me develop clients just like that.
You may also want to read: Saying No To A Writing Client
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