Thursday, March 31, 2005

Editing, Copyediting, Etc.: When Going Overboard Can Cost You a Client

As editorial professionals, our jobs are to make documents as perfect as possible when it comes to editing, copyediting, writing, etc. However, going overboard can cost you a client, even if your changes are absolutely correct.

How? An example: One project that comes to mind is an annual report for a large communications design firm. For two years, I edited this report, written by the company CEO.
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The writing was not as polished as it could have been. The first year I did it, I sent it back rife with changes and suggestions. Although my changes were appreciated, when I was presented with the report the second year, I was told not to focus so much on the writing style (eg, sentence structure, word usage, etc.), and to simply focus on glaring errors, leaving the style, sentence structure, etc. alone.

As somewhat of a perfectionist, this was extremely hard for me. But, over the years, I learned that doing what the client requested was as much a part of my job as the actual editing, writing, etc.

When I stopped taking on outsource projects and turned my client list over to a colleague, I briefed her on the idiosyncrasies, if you will, of each client. Eg, this one is very particular (catch EVERYTHING); this one only requires changes of glaring errors (eg, don't go overboard), etc.

After doing a project one or two times, you can usually get a "feel" for what the client wants. Then, your job is to deliver. Oftentimes, retaining a client is as much about your listening skills, as your editorial skills.
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