A lot of folks on my friends list have been talking about freelancing, so here's my $.02, adopted from a post that I made in resposnse to ellameena
in her journal.
She wonders if saying 'no' to assignments from editors will cause them to stop calling her for future assignments. My experience is that editors don't stop calling if you say no occasionally -- though that probably depends to some extent on how long you've been working for them. Editors understand that they're not your only client, and that sometimes you're just booked.
Think of it this way -- they're opinion of you might just go up if you say no because it means you must be busy. And if you're busy, then other people know how good you are -- so they had better appreciate you!
For me, optimism and leaps of faith are keys to freelancing. If you don't say no once in awhile, or if you don't quit working for clients that you're not happy with, you get stuck in a rut of doing work just to pay the bills and never expanding into new areas that might be more lucrative and satisfying. More than once over the past 12 years, I've quit doing work for a client with no sure thing lined up to replace it, but inevitably something does come up, usually surprisingly quickly. Of course, I only do it when I've got a steady diet of work from other clients to soften the blow.
For every assignment accepted, there's what economists call an 'opportunity cost' -- the time you spend on it and the energy taken up by it cannot be applied to other potential projects, like pitching stories to new clients. And another cost: if you're overbooked, you can't give each project the attention it deserves and the quality of your work could slip. In that case, clients truly might stop calling you.