Modern writers waiting weeks for their next assignment often don’t know how to turn editor criticism into profit. New writers frequently miss wide margins of opportunity by neglecting follow-ups, and not considering rewrites. However, frequent and competent communication is your best tool to keep yourself employed. That’s because editors are agents of a business requiring them to coordinate a broad array of writers with different skill-sets into a cohesive brand. Demands on the editors time and focus are steep. Often editors may come across sharply. But they don’t have time to sugarcoat or sometimes even explain why something compromises their style-guide or brand-voice. It’s up to you to decipher the enigmatic thoughts of these publishing gods if you want to get paid. Here are some important points to keep in mind when receiving that dreaded rejection email:
Don’t Complain Because an Editor Rejected Your Work Due to Personal Taste
It comes with the career. The whole point of their job is to exercise personal discretion. To protect the voice and image of their publication’s brand, and it’s direction. Sometimes that editor is the brand! Especially if you’re working for a blogger or small business owner. Don’t pity yourself because the “powers-that-be” want you to “jump through hoops.” Learning to appeal to the preferences of individuals or small groups is the name of your business. Your success as a writer primarily comes your ability to perceive critical insights about your writer. Treat style-guides like your religious-text. When they hit with you with criticism that’s not in the style-guide, amend your copy to include it. Which brings us right next to our next section:
Log Every Critique to It’s Respective Client
The first thing I do when I acquire a new client is create a folder for them on my desktop. They’re clearly too important for the Documents folder. Inside of that folder I’ll create three more folders. Drafts incubate in the first folder awaiting judgement day. Whether they are accepted or rejected will decide which of the other two folders they go to next.
Paid submissions honestly don’t tell me as much as rejected submissions do. I write headers on rejected submissions with my editor’s name, and a summary of his criticism. My amendments to client style-guides are categorized depending on the subject matter of the criticism. This makes it easier to reference when needing specific information about client grammar-preferences, or the direction your client is trying to take their publication. Remember, all feedback is good feedback. Editors aren’t sitting there waiting to tear apart another writer’s dreams. They’re usually rushing to meet deadlines of their own. Not to mention, the expectations set upon them by readers – and their own superiors – are very high. Editors need the most finished-quality work they can publish. Help them help you: and you can expect an ongoing stream of assignments.
Never Turn Down Rewrite Opportunities
Half my rejected submissions are saved with simple rewrites. Most of the time editors can’t publish a work due to minor errors. Sometimes, they’ll cut or add to work themselves. Other times, they can’t be expected to manage your work-load with their own. Especially if entire sections of your article need to be redone. The enhancements usually aren’t rocket-science. A simple grasp for the subtleties of editorial writing will take your work a long way.
Most importantly, don’t forget to proofread! Sending in your submission with even a quick once-over is an easy way to turn-off a writer to your work. You’ll save yourself the trouble of most your rewrites if you glance over your draft at least once looking for basic errors.
Adapting to a rapidly changing industry is a professional skill that will help you excel nearly anywhere. Versatility requires careful attention to detail, professional emotional management, and reasonable time management. Understanding that your career is not about the easy 15 minute write-up is the first preconception most writers need will abandon to fit in with the mold of lifelong writers. Whether you’ll have assignments to support your lifestyle is dependent on your ability to build meaningful relationships, and meaningful content.
You build meaningful relationships by anticipating your client’s needs, communicating clearly, and expressing you clearly understand what’s needed. This requires researching your client before submitting a cover letter. End all of your communications with a question to keep them engaged. Reply to emails promptly, and with finished-quality work. Look at every communication with your client as an opportunity to offer professional empathy. Show you understand the urgency to produce material relevant to their audience while meeting the demands of their superiors. Adapting to your audience is the smartest way to turn editor criticism into profit.