By Ken Walker
Earlier this year, a fellow freelancer told me he had passed along my name to a publisher looking for some editing help. Before the man and I talked, I looked over his organization’s website and liked what I saw. In our conversation, I learned the job was strictly editing: condensing material from transcribed interviews and adding some background material about the interviewee. It appeared I could easily fit this into other ongoing projects. I suggested he send me an assignment and see how it went. He agreed. The way he talked, I expected it in a day or two.
When it didn’t come, I emailed to ask about it. I received an apologetic note several days later; the publisher had gotten busy and would send it that week.
That week never came. Why this man wasted my time and never had the courtesy to explain why is beyond me. But it happens, just like it did a couple years ago.
After a pleasant conversation, an editor asked if I were interested in editing a memoir that would be self-published. I told her if she sent it soon, I could start on it before we went on vacation. A week later, I emailed to ask about the manuscript. No reply. Another email. No reply.
There are other, similar experiences from my freelancing career that have taught me to be very specific when talking with an author or editor about a prospective job: 1) When can I expect to receive the material? 2) What kind of deadline is involved? 3) What is the fee? 4) Do you have any particular expectations? 5) Is there anything else I need to know? Making assumptions without nailing down details is a prescription for disappointment or disillusionment. While doing so doesn’t make the sting of folks who ghost you any easier, it helps to remember that God has your back.
To illustrate, on Aug. 1 I received a note asking if I could copy-edit a devotional. The editor would send it two weeks later and wanted it finished two weeks after that. Since I didn’t know if I would get the developmental editing job I had bid on, I said yes. I didn’t get the editing job, but the author did pay me (in advance) to clean up his endnotes. After bearing down to get the notes finalized, on the morning of Aug. 15 I emailed the editor to ask if she would be sending the devotional manuscript soon. At noon, she said no; the author had been hospitalized.
Fortunately, I had decided to not allow the 2023 Rollercoaster to upset me. Three days later, I received a note from an editor with a company I had worked for previously, asking if I could handle a developmental edit. A few weeks later, I had a healthy deposit in my bank account. I’m in the final stages of the manuscript as I write these words. It’s good to know that God never ghosts us.
Ken Walker is an experienced ghostwriter, coauthor, and book editor who has written, edited, or contributed to more than 90 books. They include a number of professionally published books in the fields of health, personal experience, and teaching, and self-published memoirs—the latter a growing niche in the publishing world. Ken is also an experienced freelance writer, having written for a variety of national publications. He is still a regular contributor to websites of two denominations. Ken enjoys using his writing and editing skills to help others relate what God has done in their lives. Samples of his work are available on his website, www.KenWalkerWriter.com, or you can email email@example.com.