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Working with Writers

When you hire a professional writer, you help to ensure that your writing project will be both efficient and successful. To enhance the prospects for its success, it is important to think of the writer as a skilled partner whose judgment should be given weight in all writing-related matters and who deserves clear explanations of required changes and acknowledgment of successful execution.

To produce top-quality results, the client and writer should adhere to professional standards of business practice and should communicate clearly with each other from the start. The nature of their communication can be thought of in two contexts—process and content.


"Process" refers to the mechanics of the business relationship between the client and writer. It typically includes matters such as:

  • Determining when and where you will meet
  • Deciding where the work will be performed
    Most writers prefer working in their own offices; some are free to work in those of the client.
  • Providing all of the necessary background and research materials and/or access to all key sources
  • Defining draft and review procedures
    The number of expected drafts should be clearly spelled out, as well as the protocols and procedures if more are needed.
  • Setting a timetable for the work
    Deadlines must be established for both the writer and client staff.
  • Establishing a payment procedure
    From the standpoint of the writer, it is always better to deal directly with the person who makes the final decisions regarding payment. The more middlemen between the writer and payment decision-maker, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and errors of transmission.


"Content" is the substance of the writing project—the actual worded material created by the writer. Whether the project involves a brochure, user guide, article, or speech, its ultimate success requires attention to the following content elements:

  • Purpose
    What is the goal of the writing project?
  • Format
    How will the material be presented? Will it consist of only written—or will photographs and illustrations help to convey its message?
  • Tone
    Should the material be written with a formal, corporate audience in mind? Or should it be light, technical, humorous, or hard-sell?
  • Audience focus
    What are the interests, background, experience, knowledge, and education of those for whom the finished product is intended?
  • Specific details
    What information should be included in the final product? Should its focus be specific or general?
  • Grammar and usage
    Does the client have an established style to which the writing must adhere? If so, the writer should be informed of its details before the first draft is written.

An experienced writer understands the importance of these elements and can work with the client to ensure that the final product meets all of its requirements and that it meshes with other aspects of the project, including its visual presentation. And by using the elements as a framework for discussion, the client and writer can provide themselves with clear guidance as they evaluate, discuss, and revise the work.

Bottom Line

In any writing project, the client and the writer share a common goal—to convey the message of the written material to its audience. To do so most effectively, they must both have a clear understanding of the goals and requirements of the project, and their lines of communication must be kept open at every stage so that they can develop a relationship of trust and cooperation.

By thinking of the writer as a team member, rather than a hired hand, and integrating him or her into the project as completely as possible, from concept to completion, the client can help ensure the success of the writing project and maximize the investment in the writer.

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332 S. Michigan Avenue, #121–W686
Chicago, IL 60604-4434

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