What to Do Before Turning In an Assignment
When I turn in an assignment, I always thank the editor or client for the job and tell her that I hope she likes what I’ve written. I attach the assignment but also paste it into the e-mail in case the client can’t open the attachment. But I also do something else that I think reduces the number of questions and revisions: I explain why I wrote the piece the way I did. For example, here’s the e-mail I sent to a hospital client about the web copy I wrote for her:
During the interviews, it was interesting to hear what each Service Leader thought made [client] unique in their area, and I worked to get that across.
Also, for each section of each area’s web copy, I stressed the benefits to the patient — so not just what you offer, but why the patient would care.
I added more information to each area, explaining procedures where needed, but worked to keep the pages short and readable, with informational subheads since many people scan instead of reading straight through.
Finally, I varied the tone just a bit for each area. I usually kept it upbeat and conversational, but for the cancer and behavioral sections I used a more soothing tone.
I think that an explanation like this heads off potential objections. For example, I told the client that I varied the tone so she wouldn’t have to ask, “Why do the cancer and behavioral health pages sound different from the rest?” I told her I kept the pages short and readable so she wouldn’t wonder why she didn’t get 1,000 words on each page.
Also, giving the client a peek into the way I work helps her appreciate the thought and skill I put into each piece. For example, here’s an e-mail I sent to a national health magazine editor today:
Here’s the [article title] piece, below and attached. I tried to keep the headlines and text guy-friendly (unlike the girlie tone I usually use with these pieces). I hope you love it! As usual, it was fun to write. Thanks for the assignment, and I look forward to the next one!
I wanted my editor to note that I thought about the audience and what tone they would appreciate. My take is that explaining my thought process boosts my credibility as a professional writer.
When you turn in an assignment, don’t just bang out a “here it is” e-mail to your editor, heaving a sigh of relief that the article or copy is finally off your plate. Tell her about the thought and care that you put into the piece, and she’ll likely appreciate it more. [lf]