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When a Client Ruins Your Writing

client ruins your writingWhen a client ruins your writing your first reaction is likely to be shock and anger. I remember to this day, probably 30 or even 40 years later, how one of my first pieces for a magazine was, in my opinion, totally ruined by an editor. It was a humor piece and apparently he didn’t get my humor. I was furious. I was also embarrassed and felt, still feel actually that he made me look like a fool of a writer.

It’s probably not as important as you think

A more experienced writer talked me down. “After all,” he explained, “not only did I have a byline but I’d been paid. Besides, there’s really not much you can do about it.”

After some more sniveling I let it go.

The same thing is true when a client ruins your writing. A truth is they hired you to write something for them. When you submitted it they felt it wasn’t right so they ‘fixed’ it. As long as you’re paid or going to be they own it unless you’ve made other arrangements. Other arrangements are hard to get when you’re writing commercially. The copy you love may be the copy they hate, or their recent nephew who just graduated with a BA in creative writing made some suggestions they used. Whatever the reason when a client ruins your writing there’s not much you can do.

If you’re named it is different

It would be different if they hired you to write a creative piece over your name or a book naming you as the author. Under these circumstances you may have some leverage. I wrote a booklet that described how to meditate in a particular named style. The editor wanted me to change it to something I felt deeply was a wrong way to meditate. I handled it by telling her if she changed it I wanted my name off the booklet. I was actually surprised when she caved and let me have it my way. Of course, I’ve never been accepted to write anything else for that publisher; I still think it was worth it.

When a Client Ruins Your Writing

When this happens to you and a client ruins your writing you really have only two choices:

  1. You can accept the changes with grace
  2. You can fight it

You’re the only one who can decide if this is a battle you choose to fight or not. Before you decide to fight consider if you’re likely to win and if you do is it likely there will be other consequences. Make your decision after you’ve truly calmed down.

As always,

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer



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