Last week I named a few things you shouldn’t say to an editor “5 Things You NEVER Say to an Editor” and the post was pretty darn popular so I figured it was only practical to give a couple of tips on things editor’s love to hear from writers.
5. “I need help.”
Writers like to present a tough facade. They want to show they have everything under control and worry that asking their editors for help on a piece will cost them future work. On the contrary, editors love to know a writer will come to them for help because it ensures they will get the article they asked for, not the one a writer thought they wanted. If you are unsure of what the editor wants, encounter a major issue, i.e. with sources, or are having trouble working a particular angle, let your editor know. They’ll help come up with sources or approve a new angle, it’s their job. Just don’t wait until the last minute.
4. “You can reach me at: (614) 555.1234.”
There is nothing worse than having an issue with an article right before you go to print and you can’t get in touch with the author. Sure there is email, but as you anxiously refresh your Twitter page and email hoping for a response, you find yourself wishing, woefully, they had included a phone number in their correspondence.
Many editors are assigning work to writers without ever speaking to them over the phone – the power of technology! Unfortunately, where there is power, there is pain. Contrary to popular belief, writers aren’t in front of their computers every hour of the day and in every time zone. We leave the house, have internet troubles, and *gasp* take a break from social media and microblogging! Having an alternate means of contact an incredibly important, often overlooked courtesy.
3. “I’m available for edits.”
A Twitter friend reminded me after the 5 Thing You Never Say article that writers should keep themselves available for revisions. (Thanks NancyDWrites!) Some writers will say they are too busy to do revisions or become offended at the request. Both responses are a sure way to make the Do Not Call list. You want to do your own rewrites and edits. You are familiar with the information, sources, etc. it really is your responsibility. Do you really want someone else calling all the editing shots on your piece when you can do it yourself?
2. “I saw the great piece you published on (subject here).”
This helps establish a relationship with the editor. You don’t have to be best pals, but it helps keep your name in the front of the editor’s brain and shows you are keeping up with the publication. It’s a good idea to touch base with an editor every so often without asking for work. That’s building a relationship. Remember to keep the emails short and friendly professional.
1. “Here’s my article (turned in early!).”
OK, you don’t have to say the “turned in early part,” they’ll know. Getting a quality, ready to publish article in early is like sending a gift wrapped hug to an editor – it gives them warm, fuzzies, makes their lives easier and instantly puts you into the ‘favorable writer’ category.
If writer and editor discuss article sufficiently ahead of time, a rewrite shouldn’t be necessary. Making some revisions is one thing. A rewrite can double the work (for no additonal compensation).
Terreece Clarke says
I meant revisions, post updated! Thanks
Great list. If you’re writing a book, I’d change #2 to “I saw a book that was recently published and is similar to the book I’m writing.” Many writers are afraid of pointing out duplications in the marketplace, but if you’ve already been contracted to do it (i.e. the publisher has already spent money on it and put it on their list), then they’re still going to want to publish it. Your editor will want to know about competing books and make sure yours is different…hopefully better!
Terreece Clarke says
Jen, great advice! Thanks for the info!
Thumbs up to the advice of being available by phone. I once had a project where the pieces were due in sequence. My editor called me and told me that he had all of the pieces that I was responsible for, except for one that was in the middle of the project. I had sent it by deadline (and had the e-mail to back me up), but there had been a glitch somewhere. He never got the piece. When he had sent me an e-mail asking about it, I had never received that e-mail. I had no indication that anything was amiss, and he was missing an element of the project. A phone call enabled both of us to get on the same page. I forwarded the original e-mail with the material and date/time stamp attached, and he confirmed receipt. Problem solved (although we never did figure out what the glitch was about.)
It would behoove an editor and write to communicate before the writer begins a project. Revisions are one thing, but rewriting is another. This is why communication and clarification are important. How many writers/editors do not supply contact information? I would think that contact information would be a requirement.
Terreece Clarke says
I think most editors try to communicate what they are looking for when they give the assignment, but there are times when assignments and writers go off track or the angle doesn’t really work as well as the editor or writer thought it would. Brain fog on the rewrites, I swear I wrote revisions – at least in my mind I did LOL!
Believe it or not, there are some writers who submit their email, Twitter, Skype and leave off their phone number…