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E. P. Ned Burke

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Don't Get The Editor Angry
by E. P. Ned Burke   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, October 18, 2008
Posted: Saturday, October 18, 2008

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10 Ways On How NOT To Make An Editor's Day

My first editor made Perry White or Lou Grant look like Don Knotts. He embodied all the gruffness of legendary New Yorker editor Harold Ross and seemed to take unusual, sardonic pleasure in reducing his new reporters to tears.

"This is a piece of crap, Burke!" is how he reacted to my first article, which I thought to be great. Then with a wink to the staff, he ceremoniously tossed my piece in a nearby wastebasket to get a chuckle from them. I found out later he did this to all rookie reporters. This was my initiation to the bizarre world of publishing.

Ever since the irascible Ross barked at his young staff, all editors in fiction, film, TV, or real life have been depicted as Ross clones.

Later, when I became an editor, I vowed to be a kinder, gentler version of Ross. However, during my three decades with this title, I found myself grumpier and more impatient than Ross with some writers. For instance, there are writers who...

(1) fail to include a SASE for a reply.

(2) like to talk about writing, rather than doing it.

(3) must dispense constructive criticism about your publication.

(4) do not heed, read, nor, apparently, need editorial guidelines.

(5) expect an immediate reply to a query or ms, and preferably by phone.

(6) submit handwritten or badly typed manuscripts.

(7) include pages and pages of credits and clips.

(8) leave it to the editor to change all misspelled words.

(9) put insufficient postage on a return SASE.

(10) ... tell the editor what to do.

There are some others. But, for now, Id like to expand on these ten.

(1) Failure to include an SASE with your submission spells an instant REJECTION with most editors who simply discard the manuscript. Expecting a small press editor to shell out return postage is wishful thinking. Its a fact of life. Deal with it.

(2) Talking about writing, rather than doing it, is a waste of time. The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it, said Ernest Hemingway. Those who thrive on listening to others pontificate on the art of writing are also wasting valuable time.

(3) Dont give the editor advice or point out his glaring mistakes in grammar or punctuation. He deals with thousands of words each issue. If a few are flawed, so be it. Leave perfection to God, not to you or the editor.

(4) Editorial guidelines are the Commandments of a publication. You must obey them, or go straight to hell.

(5) Hundreds of manuscripts cross an editors desk each day. Expecting an immediate reply is like waiting for the TV cable guy to call you back. Be patient.

(6) Todays technology offers quality output. So, there is no excuse for sloppy copy. Dont waste your stamps on handwritten submissions. Those days are gone.

(7) Dont tell an editor how great you are (or were) with a long list of credits. Boring!

(8) If you have more than one misspelled word in your first paragraph you can probably kiss any acceptance good-bye.

(9) Putting insufficient postage on your return envelope means you dont want the manuscript back, merely a reply.

(10) Lastly, dictate payment terms, or how and where to place your masterpiece in the lowly editors publication.

This will surely make his day.

Web Site: The Perspiring Writer

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Reviewed by Malcolm Watts (Reader) 10/19/2008
Great tips. I'd like to share this with our writers group.
Malcolm Watts

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