How to build a waiting list

How to build a waiting list

October 21, 2021 By Adrienne Montgomerie Resources

Publishing departments are on a production schedule; if one editor isn’t available when they need them, they call the next editor on the list. Yet, some editors have waiting lists full of projects. How do they get the deadlines to move? Well, for one, these editors have “clients”—boss, writer, or coworker—who prefer them. Secondly, they ask:


“I’d LOVE to help you with that project! I’m finishing up some other things at the moment, but I could start on XXX date if there’s some flexibility in the schedule,” is what Laura Poole says when clients call. Poole is a professional copyeditor for scholarly nonfiction.

“For me,” says Amy Schneider, “it seems to be ‘do such a great job that [managing] editors and authors want you specifically, and they will adjust the schedule to fit yours.’ Not always, but I’ll often say, ‘I’m booked through your deadline, but is there any wiggle room? If you could move it out a week, I could take it.’ And often that works.” Schneider is a book editor in Wisconsin.

“Usually the ones who are willing to wait are the ones who’ve had a glowing referral from some happy client,” Sarah Grey says. “That’s what seems to make them want me specifically! They’ll often work with me if I propose alternate timing, but it depends on how much flexibility they have.” Grey is an “editor for those who write to change the world.”

“Short answer is,” says Jen McIntyre, “I simply tell clients ‘I have an opening starting on X day. Does that suit?’ I also ask them if they have a deadline (indie clients often have them imposed by Amazon) and then we make an agreement on start and end dates, and thankfully my clients tend to abide by that.” McIntyre is a writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada.

Here’s what Dori Devries tells potential clients: “I edit full time, but I typically book out two to three months in advance. If that time frame suits you, and you’d like to chat more, let me know.” Many will wait; some won’t. Most do, Devries says.

This article was originally posted to on 11/12/18.

Header photo by Jari Hytönen on Unsplash.

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