Post by Lady Stardust ★ on May 22, 2018 23:23:00 GMT -8
I was inspired to write about this after reading Celestine Chua's fantastic article, "How to Say No: Guide For Busy People". As you get busier in voiceover---whether as a career, or even just as a hobby---you may suddenly find yourself swamped with more projects than you bargained for, and even though you love what you do overall, you may find yourself stuck working on a projects you're not passionate about.
Saying no feels counterintuitive, because most of us want to work as much as we can. But the reality of working a lot sets in when we start getting burned out or feeling stuck or obligated to do "favors" for people at our own expense. As much as you want to make all of our clients and potential clients happy, sometimes you have to look out for and take care of yourself, too.
So, let's talk about the reasons one might need to say no to a project. Maybe you don't have the time, or the rate isn't good enough, or you're just not interested or even comfortable with doing it. Unless you've already made a commitment, the fact is, you're not obligated to work on anything you don't want to work on, so don't stress too much about the "why" and let's focus more on the "how".
Always be gracious.
Unless the offer is truly insulting and you don't care about burning bridges, you have nothing to lose by being polite. Thank the person for taking the time to reach out to you and consider you for this role, but that you must regretfully decline (yes, even for the times when "regretfully" is more like "gleefully".) As Chua mentions in her article, the mere act of saying "no" isn't rude in and of itself. It's all about how you say that "no".
Offer a valid reason when possible.
You don't need to go into your life story, but offering a quick reason for declining is generally better than just "no, I'm not interested", which comes across as curt or even rude. And you never know...they may even counteroffer with a better rate, longer deadline, etc. Of course, if the reason is "your art style looks like a 12 year old playing with MS Paint"...maybe leave that part out of your email If the reason is simply that you're not interested in the role or project, you can avoid that landmine by saying "thank you, but I'm currently not able to take on this project."
If you still want to do the project, but can't due to certain factor(s), offer a compromise.
Say the project looks interesting, but they want you as the main character, which will require hours upon hours of recording. If you'd still like to be a part of it, ask if they'd consider you for a side role instead. If you want to do it but your current week is too swamped, ask if they'd be willing to extend the deadline should you take the part. If the job pays too low to be worth the time but you'd otherwise love to do it, see if they're willing to negotiate to something closer to your normal rate. Keep in mind they may say "no" to any of these things, but it never hurts to ask!
Consider offering them alternatives.
This isn't necessary, but it can be seen as a gesture of goodwill. If you're not interested or able to do a role but have a friend who you think would be a great fit, ask if you can pass along their information. If someone wants you to do a project for free because they don't have the budget, you can link them to communities such as this one where some of the members are aspiring actors willing to do trade-for-credit projects.
If the request is from a friend or acquaintance, be sensitive to their needs.
As with many creative professionals, the people around you may assume that the whole "getting paid for your services" thing doesn't apply to them, because they know you (or talked to you a few times on Twitter). Now, some people don't charge if the project is done by a friend, and that's cool! But if you're a busy person, you may not have the time or energy to say yes to all these requests---so don't let people make you feel obligated. However, it's important to handle these requests with care, because you don't want to make a friend or acquaintance feel that by rejecting their work offer, you're rejecting them. For example: "Hey Sally, I'm really honored that you are interested in having me narrate your audiobook! I'd love to do it, but right now I've got a lot on my plate and I just don't feel that I'd be able to give it the time it deserves. If by any chance you are willing to pay for the recordings, let me know and we can negotiate a little bit of a discount since you're a friend, but either way I wish you the best with your book!" Yes, you are sugarcoating things quite a bit more than you would for a random client you don't know. But assuming you want to keep the friendship intact, telling Sally "There's no way I would ever spend hours narrating your book for free and you should know better than to ask me that" probably isn't the best way to go about it. "Sorry, but I've really got to focus on my paid clients right now" is another way of subtly nudging away people who expect you to work for free.
Leave the door open for future collaboration.
Unless you're sure you want nothing to do with this person in the future ever, sometimes a "not now, but maybe sometime" response can lead to better opportunities down the line. For instance, if a potential client asks you to give them a quote and they respond by saying they can't afford that, you could say "I understand, but should your budget ever change in the future for other projects, please feel free to reach out to me then!"
Wish them well.
Rather than closing off the email or message with the fact that you can't work with them, thank them for contacting you and/or wish them the best with their project. People tend to remember those who are kind and courteous, and it helps leave them with a good impression.
Side note: All of the guides and resources on this forum are provided on a volunteer basis as I believe everyone deserves to have access to this information. However, if you find them helpful, please consider buying me a coffee!