Tag Archives: contracts

If You Give a Client a Cookie

if you give a mouse a cookieBy Jake Poinier

If you’re a parent, or have had any contact whatsoever with five-year-olds, or were yourself born sometime since 1985, you’re likely familiar with Laura Joffe Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book series. (The favorite in our household was If You Give a Moose a Muffin.)

The basic principle is the cascade of escalating demands that occurs once you start giving in to someone of a needy-bossy persuasion: After you give the mouse a cookie, he’ll want some milk to go with it…and if he’s got a glass of milk, surely he’ll need a straw to drink it…and before you know it, you’re running around trying to oblige his newest request and the house is in a shambles.

IYGAMAC also happens to be the favorite business book of one of the most successful salespeople I know in the custom publishing business. He deals in six- and seven-figure projects, so he’s well aware of the temptation to sweeten the pot for potential clients — one easy concession surely leads to another, until suddenly you’ve got a contract that’s a lot more complicated and a lot less profitable.

For freelancers, the escalating demand dynamic often occurs in the form of scope creep or mission creep. It’s very common for a client to test your limits on how many itty-bitty revisions you’ll do for free, how short a deadline you’ll accept without rush charges, or how many changes in project direction you can stomach without going postal.

Each of us needs to manage cookie-craving clients in our own way, but in the simple spirit of IYGAMAC, here are a few thoughts to keeping the lid on the cookie jar till it’s appropriate:

  • Define policies in your contract or estimate. You can only negotiate things in writing, never he-said-she-said.
  • Set expectations early. Your behaviors at the beginning of a client relationship speak volumes about how you’re going to be to work with. I aim for something along the lines of firm-but-fair.
  • Don’t be a fool about it. I’m personally a lot freer with cookies when it comes long-term, loyal clients (who’ve earned them) or high-paying clients (who are paying for them) — not just any random mouse or moose who happens upon my doorstep.

Check out Jake’s most recent Dr. Freelance article: “The real freelance minimum wage.”

Writing a Book? Google First

google-analytics1I just helped an old friend out, giving her what I’d call a narrow escape. I had just gotten back in touch with someone I hadn’t seen in years…when catching up, I learned she was working on her first three chapters of a novel that PublishAmerica expressed an interest in.

This set off warning bells as I’ve read many negative things about PublishAmerica–not the least of which includes an author testing PA by sending them a manuscript, reportedly containing the same 30 pages repeated ten times. PublishAmerica has gotten bad ink in respected places including Absolute Write.

Continue reading Writing a Book? Google First

Green Your Writing?


After my last post where I confessed to printing out things to read them rather than reading them online, I thought a post on “greening your writing” may be in order. I am very conscious of the environment, and there are many things we can do as writers to be more green. Here are a few to incorporate if you aren’t already doing them:

  • Lengthen the life of your magazine subscription. Donate them to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Give them to others. Drop them off at a hair salon or leave them at your health club. (Just make sure to take your name and addy off first.)
  • Recycle your paper. Sounds like a no-brainer, but do you recycle everything you can? Take a good, hard look and see if you are missing anything.
  • Donate your old cell phone or printer cartridges. There are plenty of worthy causes, but why not check with your local animal shelter and see if they accept them. Help offset their costs.
  • Utilize technology. I am going to try and use my iPhone for its calendar ability, as well as to write myself notes. I scan and send contracts whenever possible instead of printing them. (Watch it if you have your SS# on there–you may want to consider mail in that case.)
  • Learn to do your books on the computer. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I’m taking baby steps.
  • Embrace online banking.
  • Dim your computer screen. It’s easier on your eyes and will save a smidge of energy.

Do you have any other green tips you can share with other writers? Feel free–we’d love to hear ’em!