The New Client Jitters–Writing for a New (to Me) Company

Sometimes, writers new to freelance writing or work-for-hire writing will tell us here at Mentors for Rent that they’re very nervous about trying to get assignments in the educational-writing market, even though we know they have the knowledge and skills they need.

But we get it–it’s kind of scary. When you take on an assignment, you commit to doing it–and doing it well. but if it’s a new area, you can be uncertain of whether you actually have the chops to do it well!

This morning, I started working on a narrative passage for an educational company I’ve never written for before. And it’s not poetry nor nonfiction, my two comfort zones. Even though I’ve written literally hundreds of passages and poems for educational companies (in addition to 100+ books), it’s always nerve-wracking writing the first time for a particular company. Will I be a good fit? Will they like my writing? Will this be an efficient process, or a boondoggle of committee edits, rewrites, etc.?

I have no idea. But I have two weeks to write this passage, and I’m hoping to get it done in 4 hours over those two weeks. This morning, I spent about 30 minutes expanding the brief, two-sentence proposal that was accepted and assigned. We’ll see what happens from here!

But I just thought it might be reassuring for you to know that even very experienced writers get a bit nervous when new assignments come their way. It’s like a first date that can end in a kiss, with the promise of more, or a cool handshake and a carton of caramel ice cream eaten as a reward for surviving the night.


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
This entry was posted in Laura's Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The New Client Jitters–Writing for a New (to Me) Company

  1. Sara Matson says:

    Thank you, Laura. That IS reassuring. 🙂

    • I’m glad. Writers talk about having to learn to write a book with every book they write. It’s never the same process twice. Working with freelance clients is much the same, I think. It’s key to have a network of people you can ask questions of (whether that’s us as Mentors for Rent, or your critique group, or a Yahoo Group that includes other writers who do this kind of work). Then, if they all say, “No, those directions are not clear” (or whatever), then you can confidently ask the client for clarification without feeling like you’re just too new at it to be successful. That’s just one example, of course:>) But I’ve definitely drawn on my network of writers/teachers to ask similar questions of when working for a new company!

      • Sara Matson says:

        Again, good to know. With my first (and only) experience at writing test passages, the directions were not clear, and after several attempts to revise, my passage was rejected. I assumed that maybe I just wasn’t good at it, but later learned that an experienced passage writer had trouble figuring out what they wanted, too. Add that to what you’ve just said, and I might approach the next opportunity with more confidence and less discouragement if I can’t please. 🙂

  2. It’s hard when that very first one doesn’t go well. I have had passages and items rejected over the years, Sara. I think my overall acceptance rate is about 90%, but those 10% are always discouraging. But it’s just business. I have had that same experience, where I learned afterward that all the writers on a certain project had issues–not just me. That was such a relief! Keep going after those jobs! As you rack up successes, the assignments will feel less intimidating. Also, you’ll hopefully find a couple of companies that you are a really good fit for:>)

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