One of the worst things about being a freelance writer/editor (apart from never knowing when, or even if, the cheque will arrive, is not knowing if your work has reached its destination or if it has been eaten by cyber-gremlins instead. I do believe these creatures exist. No larger than a flea or a full stop, and coloured toxic green or violent violet, they lurk beneath the keyboard and inside your hard drive. When you press Send, they have just a split second in order to grab your precious megabytes and munch them, with fiendish cackles. Put your ear to your computer: can't you hear the little devils hissing and skreeking?
For months... no, years... I have been trying to impress on my various employers the importance of acknowledging receipt of my work. I always try to beat deadlines. For the last week, I have been editing a 100,000 word novel. The deadline was yesterday. I sent it Tuesday lunchtime, then checked my mail several times hoping for a 'thanks so much for getting it done early' email. Nothing. I emailed asking if they had got it. Still nothing. Now I'm worried that my follow-up email didn't arrive, either, and they are still awaiting my work!
I am currently working on a thriller written by a friend of mine. He is seeing a publisher in a few days' time and wants the first few chapters to give him. Last night, I sent over the 60 pages I had done so far, together with some general editing notes. Did I receive any acknowledgement that they had arrived? What do you think!
I also did some property research for a friend, and sent an email complete with photos and links. Yet again, there has been a deathly silence.
In olden times, I would ring to ask if work had arrived, as a combination of hard copy and snail mail often resulted in problems. But now that all my work is done via email, surely a quick 'Got it, thanks,' would not put the recipient to a lot of trouble, and would be a great relief to me - indeed, to any freelancer. Why should we have to do all the chasing? It's bad enough having to chase the cheque, without having to chase up the work itself and see if it has reached its destination.
Apparently there is something you can set up which tells you if the recipient has opened your email. But why should the onus be on me? Common courtesy costs nothing. Even cyber-gremlins (suggestions for names, please!) can't eat that!
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