Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tracking Your Progress

Editors are notoriously busy folks, so when I’m lucky enough to score an assignment—whether it’s for a new-to-me market or one I write for regularly—I try to get my questions out of the way early on so I can move forward with any necessary interviews and then the writing. I don’t want to bug the editor with a lot of questions as I work on the piece. If everything goes according to plan, once the piece is accepted or assigned and I’m clear on the direction, the editor won’t hear from me until the story’s finished. Of course, there have been some instances where I was having a lot of trouble contacting a particular source or I needed an extension on a deadline, but as long as I gave them a some notice (as opposed to not turning anything in), it’s never been a problem. Every editor is different, obviously—some may want to be kept informed of how the story is progressing, for better or worse—but in most cases, I’m pretty invisible until the deadline rolls around.

I’m taking a different approach with my business clients already, however.

With an article, the editor typically sets the deadline and it’s up to me to deliver on time. A businessperson, however, isn’t as familiar with editorial timelines—I may have a rough idea of how long a project will take, and it could seem like forever to a businessperson (most of whom need things yesterday if not sooner). So out of courtesy to my client, I’ll provide them with progress reports as I complete various steps of the project. Some request this up front; others may not. But for my last project—which admittedly took much longer than I’d anticipated—I included the client on various emails and would just keep him informed as I moved along. I don’t want anyone to think that work isn’t being done, or that it’ll be rushed at the eleventh hour. He didn’t respond to all of my emails, but I think he appreciated being kept in the loop. Since our client base is still building, it’s more important than ever to make a good impression.

What about you? Do you maintain contact with clients and editors as you work on your various projects, or do you disappear until deadline day?

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