As editors, sometimes it's better to say no

woman with hand out in front of faceA few years ago, one of our favorite clients called to find out if we could edit a 250-page federal proposal over the weekend.
“No problem,” I told her. “That’s what we’re here for.”
Then she told me that the proposal was just in draft form, and about 100 pages would eventually be cut out of it. That’s when I put on the brakes.
Even though I was happy to do the work (and told her as much), I advised her that it was a waste of her and her company’s money to hire us. They would be paying us to copyedit material that would subsequently be heavily revised — if not cut. If the material had to be scrubbed for political reasons — to be cleaned up for a C-level review, for example — well, we’d do the job. But our strongest recommendation was that the document not be copyedited at this stage in the game.
Guess what? They took our advice. Sure, I gave up some 40 or 50 billable hours of revenue as a result. But I think it’s more important in the long run to help our clients spend money wisely, and at the right time.
That’s what we’re here for.
This post was written and published by Samantha Enslen in 2009, and has since been updated. 

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