How to Handle Scope Creep

Setting expectations from the start helps keep the project you’re doing from becoming never-ending. If you agree to do one round of editing, that does not also include three hundred hours of personal coaching while the author is trying to finish the revision.

It’s very common for the scope of an editing project to change, what we call “scope creep.” In some cases, it offers the opportunity for creating additional income. When you deliver the ms, if the author does want those three hundred hours of personal coaching, you can charge for that separately.

The problem occurs when we don’t push back against scope creep. It’s one thing for the author to send a few emails after you’ve delivered the edit, asking you to clarify a point you made or to ask if you think a solution they’ve devised will work. It’s another to be on the hook for questions the author asks for the rest of their career.

So, be as clear as possible: “I provide two hours of email support after the edit is delivered; by request I can arrange additional coaching at my hourly fee of $X.”

Many times authors don’t realize that what they’re asking is different from what they agreed to. Almost always when I’ve brought this to their attention, they’ve recognized right away that they pushed the boundaries and they adjust their expectations accordingly. In other cases we will work out additional compensation for the additional work.

Some authors want the dev editor to actually fix all the problems in the ms, which is far beyond the scope of what a dev editor does; that’s a coauthor or ghostwriter, and you would have to charge significantly more. Some writers need more teaching than we can provide in an edit; in those cases, you may be able to begin a coaching relationship with the author.

Recognize that scope creep is very common and be prepared to push back against it.

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