She calls herself an editor.
In actual fact she’s a person with terrible written communication skills (as well as terrible manners) and a dubious grasp of the English language. She pays well, though—more than twice what I used to make per article—so maybe the practice of regularly having to advocate for myself is just part of earning that.
She’s one of two clients for whom I write regularly right now, both of them paying considerably more than I earned a few months ago. The other client gives me forty articles at a time, leaves me entirely alone for a few weeks, and pays me the same day I send them in. I love writing for him.
But this lady—lord help me.
She sends writing instructions that are incomplete and nonsensical… and then gets impatient when I ask for clarification.
This week her response to my invoice was a terse and un-informative email: “This invoice is NOT correct. Please revise and send me the correct invoice.” No specifics. I double-checked and replied that the invoice exactly matched the articles I’d sent her. Eventually I got the unapologetic answer (accompanied by a late payment) that it had been her error. Yes, I know that.
She has sent emails accusing me of plagiarism when CopyScape showed up a “hit,” which turned out only to be a hit of the keyword-phrases, which I am required to include, none of my own writing. (She retracted when I advocated.) Yesterday’s email accused me of “outsourcing” my work to a non-native English speaker, due to incorrect English in the phrasing of some sentences. I pointed out that when the required keyword-phrases are strings of words that can not, in any way, be used “correctly” in the English language, then every sentence with that keyword sequence will necessarily have incorrect phrasing in it.
I also found myself musing over the choice sentences concluding her email (in which, remember, she was chiding me for writing like a “non-native speaker” of English):
I’ve worked with over 100 writers till date, I don’t pay lousy editors, because I started out as a writer long back in time. Please be aware I check every copy you right..
I wonder in which language she started out as a writer? I just hope it wasn’t English…
This is fairly typical of a week’s interactions with her… She lashes out with a complaint that’s as rude as it is unfounded, I respond by advocating for myself, she backs down (or ignores my response), she sends more work as if nothing had happened.
The aspect of advocating-for-myself is something that has changed over the course of my ten months or so of freelance writing. I’ve come to know my worth as a writer, to stand up for myself, and to set boundaries. Ten months ago I’d take almost any pittance of a payment (because I was so excited to get paid anything for writing) and work under any conditions set by a client.
These days my main “boundary” is insisting on a 24-hour window for turn-around, because I don’t want to be living at the computer (instead of in the world with my family) just-in-case a client sends a project and expects an immediate response. I’ve committed to return any assignment (up to 5,000 words) within 24 hours of when the client sends it to me; whether or not they hear from me right away, they can count on getting it back within that time-frame.
I don’t do same-day turn-around any more, because I found myself a few months ago drowning in the unending tide of assignments flooding over me. I was never finished with a day’s work, because there was always another “urgent” flying at me. And if I stepped away from the computer for a few hours to run errands or hang with the kiddos, someone would be getting antsy on the other end of an unanswered email.
I suppose, once again, we come to a matter of balance. When the writing became incompatible with Mommying, it was time for a shift. Given my take-it-or-leave-it attitude in presenting my new working M.O. to this particular client, I wasn’t sure she would take it. But… I do know my own worth now, and stood by it, and she took it.
I’d written for her before, for a number of months through an intermediary—who very kindly gave me her contact information when he and I parted ways professionally. I actually didn’t contact her, because she had been my absolute least favorite client to write for, but evidently he also gave her my information, because she contacted me. I set my boundaries. And here we are.
She’s still driving me nuts, but she’s also paying well. And now I’m free to roam out of range of the computer—those afternoons at the beach with the kids, for example. An anyway, it’s a short trip to “nuts” for some of us…