1. “Do you want me to proofread my article before I send it to you?”
Astounded editor: Hmmm… that would be helpful. We all make mistakes — that’s human nature — but as a writer, you’re held to an even higher standard. Submitting work, especially as a first-time writer for a firm or publication, means you submit stellar work. Silly errors or sloppy formatting, or — for that matter — a casual, matter-of-fact accompanying email like the above, can make or break your chances for future assignments.
2. “When you say you want anecdotes, do you prefer I speak to real people as opposed to fictional sources?”
Dumbfounded editor: I don’t even need to add commentary on this one, do I? Alas… we’re not crafting the next Harry Potter here; GL Editorial Services is not in the business of selling fiction. We’re reporting on issues as journalists. Last time I checked, you needed real people for that.
3. “I’m not sure what you are asking. By source sheet, do you mean you want me to cite all my interviewee’s info? That’s going to take a lot of time.”
Laughing-because-she-can’t-believe-what-she-just heard editor: While I encourage all my writers to come to me with questions, this one is Journalism 101. Just think of all the time it’ll take me to have to find a new writer — one with verifiable sources — to report the story.
4. “I apologize for the messiness. I don’t want you to think that i took the project less serious than i would have one that paid more.”
Editor who now dreads opening up the attached file for fear of more messiness awaiting her: First of all, why do you arbitrarily lowercase your i’s? But truly, instead of apologizing for the messiness, you should be fixing it up. And, let’s face it — a comment about a project’s rate should never be included in the same sentence as one about the subpar quality of your work. (You should never even submit subpar work, but that’s another post…)
I know what it’s like to accept a project and then realize, after all the work has gone into it, that the hourly rate came out to something like $7. However, I would never go back to a client to complain about it (or even “innocently” point it out). When I feel that my work was not compensated correctly upon a project’s completion, I am diligent about negotiating more carefully with that client the next time around.
5. “Can I come to your house/office to pick up my check?”
Editor who likes her privacy: Uh… no.
Find out more about what my team of good contributors — those who would never make this list — do here.