Share this article on Facebook
Ten Ways to Please Your Editor
by Gretchen Craig
Unfortunately, writing scintillating, precise, fascinating prose is not
enough in our business. You have to know how to reach an audience, and
that means you have to know how to please an editor. Magazines, journals,
book publishers – they all have editors wading through piles of
submissions. Most of the manuscripts are not nearly as good as yours;
that is a safe assumption. However, those lesser writers may have an edge
over you if you don’t know how to approach the gatekeepers. Below
is a list of Must-Dos if you want an editor to first, actually read your
manuscript all the way through, and second, buy it!
1. The most basic requirement: Follow directions. Editors have stacks
of submissions, and tossing one aside for not heeding the guidelines is
an easy way for them to whittle down the pile. Most publishers post submission
guidelines on their website. This will include margins, word count, font
style and size, and headings and page numbering. If the publisher wants
no more than a ten page submission, don’t send twenty. If you’re
submitting non-fiction, be sure to use the recommended citation format
for your sources. Pass the first test: follow directions.
2. Punctuation matters. Spelling matters. You can’t expect a word-person
like an editor to see how brilliant your material is if there are punctuation
and spelling errors. She will be too annoyed to register what a genius
you are. Punctuation and spelling are basic – master those (or find
someone who has) before you submit.
3. Editors are famously overworked and harried. They have deadlines.
They don’t really care that you may also be overworked and harried.
Meet your deadlines. If your professionalism makes the editor’s
life easier, she will remember and send you more work!
4. Your work is more important to you than it is to your editor. She
has lots of writers to pick and choose from. Don’t nag. Don’t
whine. Don’t berate. If the editor has not given you enough attention,
has not proclaimed your work the greatest thing since Mark Twain walked
the earth, keep your hurt feelings to yourself. She doesn’t need
you nearly as much as you need her. Don’t tick her off by being
a pain in the neck.
5. Check your facts. Nothing will blacken your name faster than if you
submit something factually incorrect. And if the error is not discovered
until after it’s published, the editor is embarrassed, probably
angry, and no doubt unwilling to look at anything of yours ever again.
6. Know the market. You wouldn’t send an article on crochet to
Field and Stream. Don’t send your piece out until you have researched
your targeted publication. Who is their audience? What is the usual length
of their articles or stories? What is the over all tone of the magazine
– sober or humorous or what? Have they just last month published
a story on the same topic as yours? If so, you’ll want to hold off
or look for another publication. Is your piece seasonal or topical? Find
out how far in advance they need an article on Christmas. It might be
they’d want it turned in by July!
7. Don’t be hard-headed about some editorial changes in your writing.
Publishers routinely change names and places in fiction. Even in non-fiction
writing, an editor might delete or move a line or two. If it’s not
significant, go with it.
8. On the other hand, you don’t have to accept editorial suggestions.
It’s your baby. Your task will be to weigh losing a publishing opportunity
against your desire to protect your vision and your integrity. You only
need to compromise on the small stuff. If you think the editor just doesn’t
“get” it, move on.
9. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. (To which every
bright four year old responds, “Who wants to catch flies?”)
Even if you and the editor cannot reach an agreement, Be Nice. There will
be other occasions you may work together, and being snippy or arrogant
or insulting will not only make you unpopular at that institution, word
will get around that you were a butt-head. It’s a small world. People
10. You may be the vessel of wonderful imaginings, but you are also a
craftsman. If your piece is not the very best work you can do, don’t
send it. Check your sentences for variety and sparkle. After all, you
have competition, and you have a reputation to make or to keep. Nobody
makes fast money as a writer. Take the time to revise, check facts, revise,
and then revise.
If you follow all these steps, you will have earned your future editor’s
attention. She will be able to devote herself to the content of your manuscript
instead of shaking her head at the Things These Writers Don’t
Know. You’ve put your best into your work, the ideas are deep
and meaningful, the writing crisp, and the editor will admire you and
your professionalism. You’re on your way!
© Copyright 2006, Gretchen Craig
Gretchen Craig is the award-winning author of historical novels. Always and Forever and Ever My Love areset among the Cajuns and Creoles of Old Louisiana, and are published by Kensington Zebra. Joining the digital revolution, Gretchen has self-published her latest writings as ebooks . The Color of the Rose isa collection of three short stories. Crimson Sky isa novel of the clash between Conquistadors and Native Americans in what is now New Mexico. Both are available for the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook. Read reviews and first chapters at www.gretchencraig.com.
Other articles by Gretchen Craig :
Check out the latest articles in
How to Promote Your Book BLOG
Find out what works.
Join the Writing for DOLLARS! group on Facebook.
Writing for DOLLARS!
is a publication of