Hopefully I will soon be working on a project for a new client. But there are things that I need to do before I get started. As exciting as it may be to immediately start a new project, it is important to make sure that you and the person you are working for are in agreement.
First things first, you need to agree on exactly what the project entails. What is the topic? How long is it supposed to be? Because I write for young readers, I also make certain that we agree on the audience including age and reading level.
And this is just the beginning.
What is the timeline for the project? Not only does this matter for my client, who wants to know when to expect the finished project, it is also important for me, the writer. If my client wants something in a week vs in a month, they may have to pay more. It isn’t that the amount of work changes but expecting me to focus on something right this very second may come with a higher price tag.
You also want to be 100% clear on who is doing what. I am doing the writing. But what is my client going to give me? This is vital because agreeing on a topic is one thing. Being able to give me the presentation or article that launched the idea is going to help. And the more information the client can give me the better. In part, this is because I don’t have to do as much research. But it is also because the more my client can give me, the better sense I get of my client’s voice.
Another great way to get a feel for my client’s voice is through interviews. And voice is something I definitely want to grasp before I write more than a chapter or two.
I like to ask my potential clients to develop the list of responsibilities. Some people balk at this, but it can make for a smoother process. In part, this is because you will know right away if your client wants something you cannot provide. Or aren’t willing to provide. Either way it is important to know now so you can discuss it.
I know it seems like a lot to settle before you sign on the dotted line, but if the partnership isn’t going to work, you want to know that sooner rather than later.