Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tips on Working With Editors

Patricia wrote, I'd like to hear about common mistakes writers make that cause editors to cringe so that I can avoid them from the beginning.

Okay, here's a list of what to do and not to do when working with editors.

1. Be professional. No cute photos, perfumed paper or presents with your query or manuscript. White or ivory paper is perfect. Good writing will get you noticed without all the fluff.

2. Research the publishing house before you submit your idea. Read their magazine, know the audience and style. Know what type of books they publish. Make sure your idea fits.

3. Never send a manuscript in without reading the writer's guidelines. Most publishers want a query first. Most guidelines are found online. You will be noticed if you send in your article instead of a query. Not in a positive way.

4. No phone calls. Respect an editor's time. Be patient. Wait until after the response time is over to ask about your submission.

5. When mailing a manuscript, always include as SASE(self-addressed stamped envelope). If not, you may never hear back from them. And be sure you have the right amount of postage.

6. Meet your deadline. No excuses. Submit on time. Obviously on rare occasions, circumstances prevent this from happening. But if you know you have a wedding to attend on the due date, submit early.

7. Work with the editor as your partner. They are there to help you. So when they recommend changes, do them. Don't argue. Be willing to rework your piece.

8. Send in a clean copy. Editors expect writers to self edit. Always submit your best work. Have at least one person read what you've written. Read it out loud.

9. Write to the word count or below. If you get an assignment to write 800 words, write 800 words or less. Never more. There's a reason for the word count. They have page layouts that require a certain number of words. If you are over, they will have to edit out the extra words or you will have to.

There's my two cents for this Tuesday. Maybe Beth can weigh in and add a few more tips.

Hope this helps, Patricia.


Patricia said...

Thank you, Tiffany.

I did request an increase in word count once, and the editor was kind enough to grant it. The article included a celebrity interview, and I did not feel that I could do it justice without an increase in word count, and the editor complied...so it doesn't hurt to ask.

I also had an editor change the due date by a month (the production date was moved up) without telling me. Fortunately, we were able to compromise and agree on a date in the middle, but I was upset that I had less time to polish my article than I had anticipated. The lesson in that is to not procrastinate, but begin working on an article well in advance of when it is due and maybe even establish a personal due date a week or two before the contract calls for....just in case.

Rachelle G. said...

Tiffany, your list is absolutely right on. Great stuff.

Click here for my chart, Avoiding Editors' Pet Peeves.

Tiffany Stuart said...

Thanks for your feedback, Patricia.

I've not had either of your experiences. But they are helpful to know. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Tiffany Stuart said...

Rachelle, I know I could count on you to share some wisdom. Thank YOU!

Patricia said...

Rachelle, thank you. I've printed Tiffany's list and your chart for future reference.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Tiffany's points are excellent. To sum it all up:

Be professional.

If you don't know something, ask. Ask either someone who might know--a more experience writer perhaps, or the editor you are working with.
It is not unprofessional to ask questions.

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

Good stuff ladies. Always best to follow the rules, esp. in the pub. industry.

elizabeth said...

Good list. Number four is especially true for me. It is so frustrating when I'm in the middle of editing and my concentration gets broken by a phone call for something that could have been handled over email. Or, like today, when I get calls from an author or PR rep to pitch me a story idea or to ask me for the contact info for another editor. Don't try to get around the "system" by directly calling an editor when the author's guide tells you to do otherwise. It won't help you get published (and it really does waste the editor's time).

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest...lol.

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