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Think Like an Editor, Sell Like a Pro
by Jennifer Brown Banks

Would you like to improve your rate of acceptance and boost your bottom line? Or perhaps your goal is to break into some untapped markets and build your portfolio. Whatever your creative goals might be, for greater success as a writer, you need to think like an editor!

Consider it sales psychology.

Think about it. Have you ever noticed that often times when companies are developing games for kids they do a test group with kids? Or you might want to look at it as simply putting yourself in some one else’s proverbial shoes before traveling an uncertain path. Either way, it really works.

I admit that back in 2006, when I served as a senior editor for a regional publication, I gained greater insight into the publishing process, garnered better submission strategies, and discovered just what editors have to put up with on an ongoing basis. This experience helped me to be a more effective writer. And this knowledge can help you too.

Here are six savvy ways to think like an editor and increase your odds for publication success.

  1. Recognize that like the rest of us, editors are consumers. Just like us, they want to save money, save time, and have their needs met. As far as deliverables would go, this means submitting work that adheres to their editorial guidelines, is free of grammatical and spelling errors, and provides great take-away value for their readers.

  2. See the big picture. Don’t just consider their readers in your writing. How about their sponsors? Their competition? How about any gaps or needs they have in their current offerings? Assess and act accordingly.

  3. Give them more bang for their buck! This can include submitting photos to accompany your story, or side bars, or a list of websites and additional resources.  For example, when appropriate, I’ve even used a little poetry with my personal essays for variety and effect.

  4. Establish a reputation for excellence and a solid following. Everybody likes to be associated with a winner. And if you have a good degree of popularity, editors know that your fan base could potentially become theirs.

  5. Consult editorial calendars to find out what is needed and when. As they say, “timing is everything.” Editorial calendars are typically found on websites under the “media kits” section, or under the writers’ guidelines area. Basically, they are designed to give a specific outline as to the type of content that will be published monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, and also the designated cut-off time for submissions or ad placements for slated issues. Sometimes these schedulings tie in with holidays, or themes, or even national “awareness” days.

  6. Read editorial rants to also discover editors’ pet peeves. Not only are these commentary pieces about the “day in the life of” engaging and entertaining to read, many times they will reveal insider’s tips to what you should and shouldn’t do in your writing career. Look for these rants in newsletters, blogs and websites. You’re sure to find them in the introduction section, right before the weekly articles and “calls for submission” sections.

Follow these six sage tips and you’ll not only get into today’s editor’s head, you’ll get in to their good graces too. And that’s a winning combination to getting paid for your work.

© Copyright 2010, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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