When No Doesn’t Hurt

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Ghostwriting, Ghostwriter, Erick MertzThere are precious few certainties in ghostwriting. Securing an assignment is (at best) a treacherous prospect, one often littered with confusion and self-doubt inducing silence.

One of the most precarious uncertainties facing a ghostwriter is the frequent lack of “no”. This is an eerie truth no one bothers to share when you go out on your own. You are going to get turned down for a lot of work that you throw your best effort at (much more than you’ll land) but learning that you’re not getting the gig by actually hearing no only happens rarely.

You’ll actually pine for the days of the old corporate “thanks but no thanks” form letter.

More often than not, “no” comes in the form of silence. You’ll check your email box and recognize that it’s been weeks since you talked with a particular prospect. Communication simply ends with no rhyme or reason other than the client had better things to do with their money, got a case of cold feet, or my favorite, they’re struck with catastrophic car trouble. As it turns out, talking to me has an adverse affect on your car’s transmission.

The long fade makes business planning a significant challenge. No pulling punches. It’s kind of a pain. Working contract to contract requires significant forecasting. This is why I push for the no from those reluctant to indulge. If the end feels imminent (or even teetering) I will push a little harder for that answer. No one likes no but no is something I can plan around.

An unexpected result comes when you push for no though. Lo and behold, sometimes you arrive at a surprise “yes”. It’s evidence that most people exist in a state of perpetual maybe.

Upon reaching the end, I send my prospects a thank you note. I express gratitude for their letting me in on their project and my regret that we won’t be a match. Most of the time it either gets met with silence or a humble thank you in kind. But this email has made me plenty of money over the years, converting that silence to yes.

If there is a lesson to be learned here (and there almost always is when you’re freelancing) it’s to be fearless in getting to decisive place. No is good. No you can work with. Often though, just getting to a decision leads to a surprise yes from unexpected places.

Interested in discussing ghostwriting services? Have something to say about this blog? Drop me a comment below.


Erick MertzWhen No Doesn’t Hurt

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