I’ve seen hundreds of articles on how to succeed at writing, how to craft your blog posts, and how to come up with great ideas. But rarely discussed by writers is the human element in the process and how that can be maximized to the benefit of all humans involved in your writing.
It’s easy to view editors as obstacles to your work getting published, but viewing them like that is the wrong way to look at it. It’s quite the opposite. They should be seen as enhancers or boosters to you and your work and they should be treated as such.
I’ve been more and more successful with my writing month after month. I’m convinced it’s not just because my writing is getting a bit sharper, though that’s partially it, but more so that I’m building healthy and genuine relationships with editors.
A relationship doesn’t mean they’ll give you a pass to poor writing, but it does mean they’ll be more willing to help your writing become better or give you a shot to improve your drafts for a second look.
Here are a few ways I’ve found that build relationships with editors that benefit my writing career and make for a happier life for me and the editors who have to, or get to, deal with me.
Don’t spam them emails after you submit work
I made the mistake for months of emailing editors after I submitted to them asking them what they thought. I’m sure this irritated them. I realize when I hit ‘submit to publication’ they will have to opportunity to “see it” and “let me know what they think.”
Editors are busy enough. Multiple spam emails are a turnoff. If you have a legit question, go for it, but don’t waste their time just trying to push yourself to the top of their heap. I’m sorry to the editors I’ve done this too!
And definitely don’t find their personal Facebook Messenger profile and start messaging them there. At best they’ll kindly ignore you, at worst you’ll never publish in their publication. Spam is irritating. The most I’ll do now is leave a private note on the draft if I have to say anything.
In most cases, the draft should speak for itself.
Remember they are on your team
They want to publish solid content as much as you want to publish solid content. Their reputation is on the line just as much as yours is if they allow garbage past the publishing gate.
Quality of content is everything. If an editor gives you the time of day to give suggestions to improve your content, be thankful. They do need writers like you, but you need them just as much. Writers and their editors form the best team possible for producing quality content.
Of course, some editors can get on a high-horse, but I’ve found that as a rare exception. And if they seem that way, perhaps writers have been spamming them all day.
Remember, they want to be on your team. You should be a good team member and want to be on theirs. This teamwork attitude is the most productive possible one you can have as a writer.
Editors want to say yes to you. Your job is to make it easy for them to do so.
Remember many (most) editors work for free
On many platforms, editors are working for free. They are volunteers. Getting feedback from a knowledgeable volunteer for free is a gift.
I know from volunteering in my personal life as a Scout leader, that criticism for volunteers better be packaged extremely well or it will simply be rejected. If you argue with them or get snarky about comments they make on your work, they’ll put you in the not worth my time because I’m not getting paid to deal with this crap category.
It’s just people skills here. Don’t be difficult. Don’t be arrogant. Your writing will thank you for it.
Remember you aren’t their top priority
There may be 100 articles sitting in their queue for review. They may be overwhelmed. Maybe they just went through a breakup or are doing their 9–5 job at the time. Editors are people with their own lives. They’re just like you.
There are bigger fish to fry than your article. They’ll get to it when they can. The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease with editors. Often the squeaky wheel gets removed from publication.
Remember the human aspect of editors. Respect their time. Be patient.
Remember their advice is (usually) valuable
Almost every editor I’ve worked with has had advice that has helped me become a better writer. Only on one occasion did I receive bad advice and that was simply because the editor didn’t know I could use Shutterstock as a source for photos. I was friendly in how I informed them that it was a legitimate source for photos as I paid for it and I credited the source. As a new editor, she thanked me and published my work. I could have been an indignant jerk, but my story would still be an unpublished draft if I did.
Editors aren’t perfect. If they make a true technical mistake (not your opinion that they made a mistake in judgment on your work) and you are kind in helping them realize it, they’ll usually be grateful.
Don’t be indignant if they request edits
Even Stephen King has editors. You aren’t such a genius that you need to be offended when an editor “kills your darlings” for you.
I remember when I first started on this platform I thought I had a killer title and left a private note saying “I love this title, I’d rather you not publish it if you want to change the title.” And guess what? Dumb me got my wish. “Sorry, we’re going to pass on this one.”
Just my attitude of telling them not to change something was likely enough to turn off the gatekeeper. I could have said “I love this title…I hope you do too” or just not have said anything.
If you are rejected by an editor, and you will be, thank them for taking the time to review and express a positive outlook for next time. Be kind. Be professional.
Perhaps it wasn’t bad work, it just wasn’t right for their publication. In this way, a rejection and subsequent resubmission to another publication could be a blessing in disguise. Plus, your professionalism will keep doors open for you.
If they take the time to let you know why you were rejected, thank them. Even the most prolific and successful authors get rejected time after time. Rejection is part of this game. To not accept that is to not play the game well.
Be kind. Treat editors like the human beings they are. And be thankful for what they do. Your writing career will thank you in return for doing so.