Tag Archives: potential client turned away

#SaysTheEditors Turning Clients Away


I turned away a client this week.

It’s not that I’m currently so backed up that I did it in order to get Steve’s manuscript in front of competent eyes faster (if that had been the case, I’d have called in a subcontractor). Truth is that I’m waiting on about four clients to finish up and send their manuscripts along. If anything, I’m a little bored — and we all know that bad things tend to happen when I get bored. Still, if it means a better manuscript from my clients, I’ll gladly wait.

I’d just like to have something more to work on while I wait. Catching up is only interesting for so long. I mean, there’s a reason that stuff slid in the first place!

So then you’re asking why I didn’t take Steve on. I have the time. I need the income. So what’s up?

Well, I could have. I could have been like all those other editors out there who focus on taking money from clients. I would have done a better job by Steve, of course, because I’m good at what I do, but in the end, I decided it wouldn’t be fair to either of us.

Steve wasn’t ready for me. And he didn’t know it yet.

Folks, using friends and colleagues as beta readers and critique partners is valuable stuff. Learning the craft is vital. Yes, I can teach that. Yes, I now offer writing coaching along with pure editing. Yes, I like to work with debut novelists and first-time writers and all that.

So what gives? What made me turn this guy away?

Well, maybe it’s about morals. That I could have taken his money. A LOT of his money. And I could have given this manuscript my all. But… I’d have been miserable for doing it. I’d have spent too long gnashing my teeth and swearing about why I’d taken this on. Or I’d have hoped he would listen to me and take my advice and the next draft — because there would be a next draft — would be better than the first. Markedly better.

But the simple truth is that I wanted Steve to save his money. To find some critique partners, some beta readers. To join writing groups and spend some time learning craft. It’s a step we as writers all need; not even I, when I am writing fiction, operate as an island. I have people I trust to read and be brutal in their assessments. I have an editor. I read articles about writing, talk craft with my friends, listen to what I say to my clients.

Steve… he wasn’t there yet. He needed to go through all that. And so I turned him away.

Working with him at this time wasn’t in his best interests. It sure wasn’t in mine.

Sometimes, it goes like that.

And sometimes, I’m a little less bored and a lot more in love with my chosen career.

Keep doing the hard work, people. I’m ready for you once you have.