Do you get excited when you get a “nibble” back from a potential client? I admit that I do. What’s a nibble, you ask? Well, it’s when you’ve applied for a writing gig or made a pitch to a potential client and they have responded in a way that indicates they are interested in discussing the idea of your working together.
It’s not the same thing as getting the gig, though, so before you get too far ahead of yourself and start planning how you will fit this new assignment into your schedule or worse – turning down other work – consider the fact that you and your potential client are just talking. You don’t actually have the gig yet.
Unless you get the word that you are hired, anything can happen. The client may be interested in hiring you, love your samples, etc., but may need to put the project on the back burner for whatever reason. Things can change for a client very quickly, and it’s not a good idea to count on a particular project going ahead.
Here’s another example: The client may like you and your work, but you’re still negotiating fees. It’s not a writing gig…yet. The only exception to this rule may be when the prospective client tells you that you are the only writer on the plant they would even consider working with, and that you can name your own price for the project. Nice little fantasy, but probably not realistic. (If it ever happens to me, I’ll be sure to let you know.)
So, to answer the original question, when is a writing gig really a gig? Only when you have officially been hired, given the green light to start work, and negotiated payment terms (which should include a deposit). Anything else is just talking.