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Copywriters: Stop whining about client edits

April 4th, 2017 by Bob Bly

A lot of people are complainers and whiners.

We copywriters are no exception.

One of the most common complaints I hear from copywriters centers
around clients requesting edits and changes.

But the great novelist and poet, Charles Bukowski, had a more
positive take on rewrites.

In his book “On Writing” (Ecco, 2015, p. 163), Bukowski writes:

“Writing has never been work to me, and even when it comes out
badly, I like the action, the sound of the typer, a way to go.

“And even when I write badly and it comes back, I look at it and
I don’t mind too much: I’ve got a chance to improve.

“That’s the matter of staying with it, tapping away … until it
sounds and reads and feels better.”

Three quick points for freelance copywriters to think about:

1–You may know more about copywriting than your client. But he
may know more about his market than you — and almost certainly
knows more about his product than you.

2–You will have some clients who know as much or even more about
copywriting than you do. You know who they are. Writing for these
clients takes your skills to the next level.

Once, when my client MF, one of the masters of copywriting, was
reviewing a draft of mine, his comments were all so on target I
was moved to say to him aloud, “I am learning so much — I should
be paying YOU.”

He wryly replied: “You’re damned right.”

3–We don’t always write as well as we would like to. But we must
always write as well as we can.

Of course, it helps if you — like Charles Bukowski, Isaac Asimov,
and David McCullough — belong to the segment of writers who not
only like but actually love to write.

“There is nothing more magic than lines forming across paper,”
said Bukowski. “It’s all there. It’s all there ever was. What
comes afterwards is more than secondary.

“I can’t understand any writer who stops writing. It’s like
taking your heart out and flushing it away. I’ll write to my last
breath. I was meant to be like this.

“And when my skeleton rests upon the bottom of the casket,
nothing will be able to subtract from these splendid nights,
sitting here at this machine.”

Bukowski’s words remind me of when Barbara Walters interviewed
Isaac Asimov.

She asked Asimov, “What would you do if you found out you had
only 6 months to live?”

Without missing a beat, Asimov replied: “I’d type faster.”

My kind of guys….


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 10:38 am and is filed under Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

96 responses about “Copywriters: Stop whining about client edits”

  1. Tom Andrews said:

    Hey Bob,

    You’ve made some awesome points here. And you know what? I’ll admit to being guilty of having a moan to myself when clients request an edit.

    But after reading this, I’ll try and look at it in a more positive way. After all, if those edits are gonna make the copy convert better, then it’s gonna benefit me.

    My only problem is when clients who have barely no clue about copy try to edit your work like an English Lit teacher. I tell them how copy should be conversational.

    Yet still they get stuck in “school essay” mode.

    (These clients are rare, I must add.)

    One thing I wanna ask you about is this:

    You said in your first point that your client may know more about his market than you.

    If this is the case, is it a sign the copywriter hasn’t done his job properly?

    I mean, knowing your market’s the most important part of the whole process, as far as I’m concerned.

    And I would argue that, if a copywriter doesn’t know the market at least as well as the client does, then he hasn’t done enough research…

    Meaning he hasn’t done his job properly.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks for a great read, Bob.


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