Nagging is not part of the editor’s job

Trek Mudd nag

At my last company, the job of “editor” was sort of a big deal. The editor was typically the supervisor of the analyst writing the research reports. That meant the editor had two jobs: First, to provide content and language guidance to the analyst. And second, to cajole and nag the analyst into producing something worth editing on a schedule that allowed the report to get out on time.

My job there, as SVP of Idea Development, was to edit the reports that the company hoped would have the greatest amount of impact and influence. They also would occasionally send me analysts who weren’t making sufficient progress toward becoming the analysts they had the promise to become — my job was to sort of “whip them into shape” with a rigorous and imaginative editing progress.

When it came to editing, I had one rule: I edit. I don’t nag. If you miss the deadline and I don’t have time to edit the report and it comes out late — that’s on you.

I still don’t nag

Now people hire me to edit. The objective is just the same: use my knowledge of storylines, content methods, and language to help the author turn raw prose into something awesome. And I promise every client that they’ll learn to be a better writer in the process.

What I don’t do is nag you about deadlines.

If you’re late, and I’m not too busy, I’ll just turn your edit around with a delay compared to what we originally agreed on.

If I am busy, you may miss your slot, and the delay may be longer. I’ll do everything I can to help make up the time, but the delay in the schedule is on you.

It’s not my job to nag you, sandbag you, or make up for your inability to meet the schedule we agreed on.

If you care enough to want a good editor, you should care enough to make time in your schedule to write what you need to write and deliver it on time.

If you’re stuck, I’m happy to talk about that, too. Maybe I can unstick you. I don’t lack sympathy. And I have plenty of strategies to help.

Just don’t ask me to nag you, because I’m not your mommy, and I’m not your boss.

Frankly, I don’t have an hourly rate for nagging. So get somebody else to do it — or develop the discipline to do without it.

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  1. You said you don’t have an hourly rate for nagging. Neither do I, but now I’m contemplating ways to add “nagging” to my services because it happens. Not sure what I’ll call it but the high cost will grab attention and, maybe, the ensuing discussion will prevent an unnecessary editing expense. At the least, I need to revisit my template contract and be absolutely clear about this matter. (I only work with adults and I give them far too much credit in the adulting department.)

  2. Hi Josh, I suspect many of your readers would agree with this point. As a result, perhaps what might be extra helpful is a sample message we can send a client who, after ghosting us, suddenly resurfaces to ask if we’re free to chat today or tomorrow.