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Smart Versus Hard: Knowing When to Turn Down a Direct Order

Stop sign in front of a forest in summer

Direct Orders are the “lifeblood” of a prolific author. Our eyes light up when we receive an email asking for such content and the chances are high that we are already familiar with the customer in question. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many writers can attest to the fact that a rogue Direct Order from an unknown customer can sometimes result in a great deal of consternation. We may even find that we have gotten in over our heads by accepting an assignment which is entirely too obtuse or otherwise difficult to complete. When is it best to walk away?

The Warning Signs of Impending Trouble

The first step in solving a problem is being aware of its presence. From a general point of view, there are three signals which could very well represent symptoms of a larger developing issue:

  • The instructions are either impossibly difficult to follow or entirely too vague.
  • The revision rate of the new client is extremely high.
  • Requests for clarification or additional information have been met with silence or curt replies.

The first situation is arguably the most common. We are presented with a topic which is made overly complicated by the client. They may also present their instructions in such a way as to make it nearly impossible to satisfy frustratingly vague demands.

Revision rates need to be taken with a grain of salt. Many authors have developed long-standing relationships with extremely fickle clients. However, high revision rates from a new customer might signal trouble ahead. This is particularly relevant if the situation described in the previous paragraph is present.

Clients and authors should always be willing to work with one another. After all, this is the entire purpose behind the concept of Direct Orders. Clarification requests which have fallen upon deaf ears or that have been answered rudely are a sign that the professional relationship might not be worth pursuing. We always need to keep in mind that quality authors should never have to cater to the needs of unappreciative clients.

Few and Far Between

Thankfully, the examples mentioned above are extremely rare to encounter. The majority of author-client relationships are mutually beneficial and they may even signal the difference between part-time and full-time employment. It is nonetheless important to know when to (kindly) say enough is enough.

Also, read our blog article titled “The importance of the brief when ordering content“. Here you can read how a good briefing should look like and what therefore can reasonably be expected from clients.

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