Earlier this year, a fellow freelancer told me he had passed along my name to a publisher looking for editing help. Before the publisher and I talked, I looked over the organization’s website and liked what I saw.
In our conversation, I learned the job was strictly editing: condensing material from transcribed interviews and adding some background material about the interviewee.
It appeared I could easily fit this into other ongoing projects. I suggested he send me an assignment and see how it went. He agreed. The way he talked, I expected it in a day or two.
When it didn’t come, I emailed to ask about it. I received an apologetic note several days later; the publisher had gotten busy and would send it that week.
That week never came. Ghosted.
Why this man wasted my time and his, and then never had the courtesy to explain why is beyond me.
Still, in the world of freelancing it happens. Take the experience I had in August of 2021. After a pleasant Zoom conversation, an editor asked if I were interested in editing a memoir that would be self-published.
Not wanting to get in a box, I asked about the turnaround time frame. I explained we were going on vacation about five weeks later, so I would need a little flexibility. But, I said, if she sent it soon I could start on it before we went on vacation.
A week later, I emailed to ask about the manuscript. No reply. Another email. No reply. After we returned from vacation, I sent another email. As you can imagine, no reply. Ghosted again.
There are other, similar experiences from my freelancing career, which have taught me to be specific when talking with an author or editor about a prospective job: 1) when can I expect to receive the material? 2) what kind of deadline is involved? 3) what is the fee? 4) do you have any particular expectations? 5) is there anything else I need to know?
Having Your Back
Making assumptions without nailing down details is a prescription for disappointment or disillusionment, whether you are a freelancer, small business owner, or other kind of entrepreneur.
While doing so doesn’t make the sting of folks who ghosted you any easier, it helps me to cope when I remember that God has my back.
To illustrate, on Aug. 1 I received a note asking if I could copy-edit a devotional. The editor would send it two weeks later and wanted it finished two weeks after that. Since I didn’t know if I would get the developmental editing job I had bid on, I said yes.
I didn’t get the editing job, but the author did pay me (in advance) to clean up his endnotes. After bearing down to get the notes finalized, on the morning of Aug. 15 I emailed the editor to ask if she would be sending the devotional manuscript that day. At noon, she said no; the author had been hospitalized.
Fortunately, I had decided to not allow the rollercoaster that characterized this year to upset me. Three days later, I received a note from an editor with a company I had worked for previously, asking if I could handle a developmental edit.
A few weeks later, I had a healthy deposit in my bank account. I recently finished the manuscript. As we close the books on 2023, it is good to know that God never ghosts us. If you enter a new year with Him by your side, life will go better.