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Writer, Deliver on Your Promises!

I recently had a couple of pleasant experiences with repairmen. That shouldn't be news, but in today's world, the opposite experience is too often the case, so when one has a good experience, it's news!

Several weeks ago, a tree on our property unexplainably fell on my neighbor's chain-link fence. I called a couple of contractors who repair such fences for their estimates to repair the fence. Both men quoted roughly the same price, but one said it would be an all-day job, refused to give his estimate in writing, and wanted money up front, all violations of good business sense. I said thanks, but no thanks. The other man said it might take him as much as two hours to make the repairs, gave me his detailed estimate in writing, and expected no payment until the job was done. And not just done but done to both my neighbor's and my satisfaction. You know which contractor I chose to do the work.

I was home when the fence repairman arrived, but I told him I had to run an errand and would try to get back as soon as I could, hopefully before he finished. No problem. I rushed to do the errand and got back 45 minutes later to find him cleaning up. The job was done. Right. The fence was actually in better shape than it had been before the tree fell on it. Moreover, the repairman volunteered to dispose of the bent and twisted metal from the old fence. The neighbor was satisfied with his new fence. I was happy with everything, especially the happy neighbor.

Then, a few weeks later, I took my truck to the dealer for brake work. I had had an earlier oil change done by the dealer before but no actual repairs. At that time, the mechanic had told me what I already knew: I needed rear brakes. When I dropped off the truck to have the work done, the service manager told me it would take about 1.5 hours to complete the job, and he already had the price written on the ticket. An hour and ten minutes later, I had paid the price he quoted and was on my way out the door.

Almost every other time I had had others do similar repairs on my vehicles, it had always ended up either taking longer than they had said or cost me much more, or both.

The key in both instances, with the fence and with the brake job, was that the people providing the services were true to their word. They delivered as promised.

This should also be true for every writer.

We writers make promises to our editors, publishers, and readers, and they expect us to keep them. They don't want to hear excuses. Writers who deliver on those promises get published. Writers who consistently deliver manuscripts that need little editing (because they have done good self-editing before they submitted) get published again and again. Writers who give their readers what they promise get read, and their readers become fans, wanting to read everything those writers have published.

Exactly what promises do writers make? They promise their editors a particular word count. They promise to tell certain things about the agreed-upon topic. They promise to get the manuscript to the editor by the agreed-upon deadline (or, better yet, before that deadline).

They promise their readers information, entertainment, motivation, or inspiration, depending on the genre and topic about which they're writing.

No one likes to pay for work that doesn't get done right, on time, and for the price agreed to earlier. Why should the expectations be any different for writers?

They shouldn't. They aren't. Not if you want to keep selling your writing and making your editors and readers happy.

So, writers, deliver on those promises! Better yet, deliver on them and then give just a little bit more than you promise. And strive to make each successive submission just a little better than the previous one.

That's the key to successful writing.

(For more articles on writing success, see

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