Written by Liz Tolzma

I love getting requests for editing from new clients and getting to know them. Turning that client into a repeat customer is another trick. How can you build client relationships and turn one-time requests into returning customers?


It may be as obvious as a peacock’s tailfeathers, but handling yourself professionally is the best way to retain clients. Though you may work from home in your pajamas, this is still a business, and the relationships you develop start on a business level.

  1. Meet your deadlines. Whether working for a publisher or an indie-pub author, don’t delay your clients. Some authors will want their edits back yesterday, and sometimes unexpected events happen, but as much as humanly possible, turn your work in on time. If they can rely on you, they’ll continue to hire you.
  2. Communicate effectively. Always be clear when you speak with your clients, no matter in emails or on the phone. Make sure that you understand each other. Ask for clarification on any points you’re unsure about.
  3. Do your best work. As Christians, we’re called to do our best as if working for Christ. Nothing impresses a client more than when you are meticulous and go above and beyond. When they know they’re going to get quality edits, they’ll continue working with you.


Whether editing for a multi-published author or a first-time writer, it’s a privilege that they have entrusted you with their work. It’s scary for them to put out their words to be combed through and critiqued. Kindness goes a long way in helping maintain client relationships.

  1. In all your communication, always speak the truth in love, whether it’s in writing an email or in the suggestions you make in the edit itself. Highlight the positives so when you do need to critique, the client is more open to what you have to say. A spoonful of sugar, as the saying goes.
  2. Be appreciative. They’re paying a great deal of money for the edit. When you return a manuscript or start a content edit letter, thank them for the privilege of editing their work. Thank them for anything you learned or for the enjoyment you had in reading their words.
  3. Listen to clients’ concerns. Being dismissive is the fastest way to lose a client. No matter what their questions are, answer them patiently and clearly. Be thorough in your explanations and willing to reword them if the client doesn’t understand.

After the Edit

If your clients know you care about them and their work, they’re more likely to develop a good relationship with you. That makes follow-up an essential part of the job.

  1. A few days to weeks after returning the manuscript, reach out and ask if they have any questions. Going above and beyond is one of the most appreciated little touches. Be willing, however, to limit how much more you’re willing to do.
  2. If you have clients fill out satisfaction surveys or if they voluntarily offer feedback, examine it objectively. See what you can glean from it to make your editing or your interactions with clients even better. Learn and grow, no matter how long you’ve been editing.

The key to building good client relationships that will continue for years is to follow Jesus’s command. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).

How can you improve your relationships with your clients?

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a U.S. Marine, and her oldest daughter is a recent college graduate. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at www.liztolsma.com. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.