Giving Editors What They Want

By Melanie Schurr

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Giving Editors What They Want - Part 1

As an editor, I can tell you right off the bat what I am looking for: quality work, loyalty, reliability and small touches that make all the difference in the world. Let's take a look at each one.

Quality Work

A quality submission is one that looks like real TIME and CARE was put in to it. The writer was careful to do a complete spell check, easily available on all major mail programs, as well as run a fine tooth comb over their punctuation, grammar, and indentation. What a joy it is to find such a manuscript because it makes my job as editor less difficult. I tend to set such writers aside for future use, because, as I said, they take some of the hassle out of my job, and there is nothing worse than having to reword, rework, and just about redo an entire manuscript.

Quality work also entails good wording, and not talking to the reader as if you are writing him or her a casual email. I hate to say this, but I've received submissions that have little smiley faces on them(:-)), or begin with, " I hope you like my it is," or fail to offer references when statistics are given. These are all tell-tale signs of an amateur, and, while there is nothing wrong with being formally unpublished, there are lots of editors out there who won't give the time of day to a novice writer because they don't have the time to act as "schoolmaster." Personally, I have no problem with newbies, since I was once one myself, but I must admit I do require the novice writer to be open to constructive critique. Writers should not take such critique personally, but to regard it as a vehicle to higher learning. As do we grow as humans, so too, do our writing skills improve via experience and an open mind.


Most editors prefer writers who are easy to work with, and who can be there at the drop of a hat to fill in for another writer. Sure, it's an inconvenience for the writer, but the end result will be an editor who will remember and appreciate you, knowing you came through when the going got tough.


Another huge irritation is writers who promise to deliver, and then don't. If you can't deliver the goods, don't promise your editor the world. Be practical and realistic as to what your time constrains and limitations are. Don't worry about sounding inadequate. Heck, no one expects you to be Superman! Honesty is always the best policy.

The Small Touches

A good writer is always a pleasure to work with. A good writer makes certain every line of his manuscript sparkles, and is its absolute best. This "fine tooth comb" process takes time, but the end result will mean the difference from wading in a swamp pile of manuscripts, or having your article see the light of day.

Giving Editors What They Want - Part 2

The biggest mistake writer's make regarding seasonal article submissions is, they wait too long. By time Thanksgiving rolls around, and the left-over turkey is stored away for sandwiches, this is often the time many writer's begin to think about sending publishers an article for Christmas. The problem is, chances are, you are already too late because, apart from the internet, most magazine or newspaper editors plan months, if not longer, in advance, so they will not have to rush around at the last minute.

The same is true with online magazines or newsletters, otherwise known as E-zines. Although the lead in time is often shorter in the World Wide Web, editors STILL do not like to wait around at the last minute. As an editor of an online magazine myself, it saddens me to see so many wonderful submissions go right in to my email trash; work that took the contributor much time and energy, merely because they waited too long. By time I receive the submissions, I already have my seasonal edition up!

Whether one is putting together an off-line or on-line magazine, the whole creation process from top to bottom typically takes at least a few weeks. Consider the layout, design, and the fact the editor and/or staff must find suitable graphics. Add to this chore the fact the editor must also sift through dozens or hundreds of submitted articles, and, well, I think you now get my drift.

I am not only an online editor, but a wife and mom, too. My time is precious, and the least thing I want to be doing for the holidays, while I'm busy decorating, shopping, and baking for weeks on end, is to worry about my upcoming seasonal edition. By time Thanksgiving is here, my Christmas edition is complete.

So, if you are a writer, realize that we, (writers and editors), do not work by the same calendar. Learn to think ahead and plan for holidays well in advance. Your article will have a better chance of being published.

(copyright (c) Melanie Schurr)

  Melanie Schurr is a former columnist and free-lance writer who is currently the editor of The MIC (, an on-line magazine for broadcasters and anyone else who values free speech. The author welcomes new voices.

Visit my personal web page at

Melanie Schurr(
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