Now this might seem like an no-brainer topic, but let me just say, sometimes telling an author something is not enough. You don’t how many times I’ve given explicit instructions on how to get to the project information form on my website, but I still get e-mails from authors telling me that can’t find the link–despite the fact that there is a direct link on my Pricing & Payment page, and I often include the link in the body of the e-mail I send authors.
The thing is most people either skim e-mails, or don’t really try to remember all the details, because they can always just send you an e-mail and ask, right? So, I think it is important for any business-minded individual to know two ways of fielding questions before they even get asked, and having a quick and easy way to respond your clients’ queries.
Prevention: Have a Really Detailed Website
As one of the initial points of contact between you and your clients, and as the main source of information for them to decide whether or not it is worth contacting you for more information, your website has to have all the facts.
Before I even created the section of my blog dedicated to The Ribbon Marker Editorial Services, I sat down and wrote a PDF version of what was going to go up. I first had to obviously decide what services I wanted to offer, but then I asked myself, “What would I want to know about these services if I was researching them?”
That is how I came to have the individual service pages, which offers a definition of the selected service, how the client can assess whether or not they are ready for the service, and what the client can expect from me for that particular service. Then I included a link for the pricing information, just so that I am not bombarding the reader with too much information, and to weed out the visitors who aren’t interested enough to pursue more information.
Being clear and as thorough as possible about the information you put on your website will field a lot of questions concerning the scope of your services and the details that come with it. For instance, I explicitly state what I am willing and not willing to beta read. By saying what I will definitely not read, I have thus far prevented anyone sending me messages along the line of “what about a book in X genre” or “My book is more X meets X.” It works to both your client’s and your advantage, because you don’t get asked questions that annoy you or have to respond negatively to, and the client immediately knows if your service is not compatible with their project.
It’s nice that even when I refer someone to my website and they don’t think that we are compatible, they still take out time to compliment me on my website.
Fielding FAQs: Have Informative Form Responses
When I first started my business, one of the way I would offer to beta read or edit a client’s manuscript was to respond to Goodreads ads via personal message. The great thing about PMing someone is that you can include a lot of information about yourself, to just the person you are trying to convince to use your particular service.
Now, as much as people don’t like the idea of form responses, whether it is because they feel like they are too impersonal or lack a level of personalization that shows that the sender is committed, they save you so much time. I like to think of form responses as the bare dress form of your response message—you still have to take out time to tailor your message to suit your client’s particular needs.
When I first started courting authors, I went through a couple versions of my “Hey, I saw your ad and I think I could help you” message. In the first draft, I was so obsessed with listing my qualifications, proving I was sooo versed in multiple genres, and explaining why working with me would be worthwhile. I spent a good 275 words detailing my education and work history (“I just started the last course for my Masters of Marketing, to go with my undergrad in Psychology”), and my serious penchant for reading (“I remember being the only person in my 4th grade class who was excited to go on our class’ mandatory weekly trips to the library (I wanted to get there before the other kids so I could get the next Nancy Drew book)”), among other things.
You know how many projects I got with that message? One. You know how soon after that I changed the message? One week.
There were several problems with this message. It was way too long, way too informative in ways that didn’t matter, and more than a bit desperate sounding. So I changed it up to my current message, which is a brief 131 words and easily customizable. Now I get booked up to seven months in advance.
The moral of the story here is that formed responses are great when making initial contact and responding to FAQs because you write it once, with all the relevant information and links to more information, and you never run the risk of leaving some vital piece of information out and you can respond in a stress-free and quick manner without oversharing. I now have form responses to questions related to information that can be found on my website, Q’s where the client wants to know more about my process, etc.