Part 1 in the series: “Understand Thy Editor”
It would help you as a freelance writer to keep, at times, the editor’s perspective. If you can learn what an editor does, what he or she needs, and how you can assist in filling those needs, your working relationship with all editors will be greatly enhanced.
Remember the classic line from the “Pogo” comic strip: “We have met the enemy and he is us”? That’s how I felt when I became an editor after a dozen years of active freelancing.
Before my work as an editor, things used to be black and white. Freelancers were the good guys. We wore white hats, did countless hours of research, endured three or four rewrites of each manuscript, and were paid an insultingly low rate per word. Editors were the bad guys. They snickered through handlebar mustaches, worked only in the afternoons, took fiendish delight in rejecting as many manuscripts as possible, and gave freelance assignments only to their friends.
My perspective is different today. At one point in my career, I was a contributing editor for six national magazines. Prior to that, I worked four years as editor-in-chief of a large circulation college alumni magazine. Those experiences have almost completely reversed my points of view regarding editors and freelancers. (I’ve learned a lot since I knew it all.)
Naturally, the six duties we’ll cover in the next few weeks are by no means the only responsibilities of an editor. These six are the most crucial ones for freelancers to understand, however. Editors do like to help writers, and they do like to find quality manuscripts. If, as a freelancer, you can lend a helping hand to the editors you wish to work with, you will not only make several manuscript sales, you will also win a friend or two.
Next week, Part 2: “Saving an Editor Time”
Adapted from Writing for Profit by Dennis E. Hensley (Thomas Nelson, 1985; revised 2003). At Taylor University in Upland, IN, Dr. Hensley teaches students in the Professional Writing Major the importance of communicating. © 2012 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.