I’m a freelance editor. This project started off well and quickly went downhill.
Client: I want you to edit my memoir. There are thirty chapters.
They gave me a laundry list of things they wanted me to do, but seemed to have missed an important detail.
When I sent back the first few chapters with edits:
Client: I wanted this in third-person, why isn’t this in third? You should have made this change already.
First of all, it’s creepy to talk about yourself in the third person. Second of all, they hadn’t mentioned this change yet. Third, I literally stared at my monitor for five minutes before everything started to click together. I was horrified. This memoir — all of it — was written in first-person. All thirty chapters. You can’t just “ctrl-f” that change – it required revising nearly every sentence. I glanced ahead to the last few chapters, which were walls of text written in first-person.
I probably should have noped out then and there, but the client had been friendly to that point and I needed the work.
Me: Uh… this is a major change. It’s going to take a lot of time.
Client: That’s okay, I understand.
They didn’t understand. I tried my best but every day the client would contact me and flip out, accusing me of abusing their good nature, not doing my job, etc. Eventually, I got fed up and fired the client, luckily before I got to those final chapters (shudder).
I’m still left scratching my head. Why would you write a personal memoir in first-person and think it would be obviously changed to third, much less expecting the editor to automatically do that without explicitly asking for it.