Materials writing conversations #6: the packager

This is a completely imaginary conversation. No characters in the convo are based on real people – I’m just bored and imagining conversations I might have with editors…

Editor: Thanks so much for this work. You’ve clearly put a lot of effort into it.

Me: But…

Editor: There are just a few amendments. The activity where we asked for a Cambridge PET style speaking task… actually, we meant KET. The client has decided that odd number lessons should be KET, not PET, so sorry for telling you that so late…


Editor: And there are the dialogues… Although they previously said that the dialogues could be 300 words, the client has now decided they should be 200 words.


Editor: Also, the client has decided that they’d like a further task – a reading text of about 250 words. With two activities, gist and detail. And maybe a writing follow-up task. With a model. And some kind of peer correction activity, but nothing standard. Something, you know, fun. Like, peer correction that KET learners will like. This will be incorporated into the brief, so it’s included as one of your deliverables for this project.


Editor: Oh, and the client has sent us a template that they would like you to a) learn how to use in your own time, and b) make sure all documents are perfectly formatted on. Sorry for the late notice with this one. It’s quite an old template but the client has never bothered to sort out the glitches in it. It’s a tad fiddly, but I’m sure you’ll find your way around it.


Editor: And just one comment from us. Can you check your spelling? Your copy is a bit messy.

Me: For crying out loud.

Editor: Excuse me?

Me: It’s all very well you getting information filtered through from the ‘client’ and fobbing it off on me. I get that… to an extent. But if I was working with the client directly then I’d be getting paid at least twice this fee. AT LEAST. You’re the middle man here but that doesn’t mean you do absolutely nothing – surely?! I’m busting a gut here to get this work done to a ridiculously, unreasonably tight deadline. You could be a bit more accommodating, like, more grateful that I’m adapting to all these new conditions. But no. You’re sticking the knife in. I didn’t check my spellings because I DIDN’T HAVE TIME and YOU DON’T PAY ME ENOUGH TO DO THAT.

Editor: Who do you think you are? When I worked for publishers twenty years ago, we used to send work back immediately to writers if the copy wasn’t accurate.

Me: Yeah, I bet you did. And if I were writing for you (a publisher) back then, I’d probably say ‘Yes publisher, sorry publisher, my bad. Gosh, isn’t my spelling atrocious!?! I’ll rectify this right away. Is there anything else you need? Please, just please don’t hold this against me, because I really value the contracts you offer with their FAIR PAY AND CONDITIONS, not like those offered by certain editorial agencies.

… *finds asthma inhaler. Inhales three times in quick succession. Holds a nearby chair to maintain balance*

Me again: Hey, look. I realise what’s happening here. I apologise.

Editor: Thanks.

Me: I’m just… well, the work is challenging. I’m struggling with it.

Editor: No, no you’re doing fine.

Me: And, well… now I realise I don’t really have the experience to adapt to these changes that are enforced by the client.

Editor: Um, no I think you do. It was just some spelling mistakes and-

Me: In fact, I don’t think I’m experienced enough to be a writer at all.

Editor: Oh no, no you are, I mean the work you produced was-

Me: And to top it all off, I can’t even spell. I am definitely not ready to be a writer. You are right.

Editor: The client requires this work by the end of the week…

Me: That’s tough. I hope I haven’t given you too many spelling mistakes to check. Best of luck getting the copy to them.

Editor: You mean you’re-

Me: Thanks for your message. I’m out of the office (aka my living room) until the end of the week. If you require anything, especially important copy that is spelt correkly, please do it yourself.

Categories: General, materials writing

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