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Be a More Successful Writer: Five Things Editors Wish You Knew

Filed under: Communication Skills — admin @ 10:33 pm April 8, 2012

3. Editors can’t read your mind, and neither can your readers. Often writers are so immersed in their material that they forget that their readers, editors included, don’t know everything they know.

*If you are writing fiction, review your work for holes in the story. Have you skipped over scenes or backstory that serve a crucial role in the story?

*If you’re writing nonfiction, approach your work like an outsider. Does the work assume that the reader knows the people, places, and theories that are in the book? Is there any jargon that needs to be removed?

4. Guidelines matter. Publishing houses or periodicals create writer’s guidelines for a reason, and it usually has to do with two things: audience and money. The style guidelines are designed to help the writer reach the intended audience (remember #2: it’s not about you). If writers don’t stick to the style guidelines, it just adds more work for the editor—who has to edit the work to fit house style. The format guidelines, including word count, often have to do with money. The publishing company has budgeted for a certain number of pages. Your piece, once dropped into the template, must fit. When writers turn in work that is too long or too short, we have to fix it. (By the way, I rarely hire back writers who don’t follow guidelines. It’s too much work!)

5. Deadlines matter. Think of your writing deadline as just one domino in a long line of dominoes. When one deadline is missed, it affects every other deadline for the project. Yes, there is sometimes wiggle room, so if an emergency arises, please do talk to your editor about an extension. That said, I would not encourage any writer (no matter how good you are) to miss a deadline more than once.

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