Ever wonder what’s going on inside other people’s heads? I sure do. Writers, especially. Now, I’m a writer. I’m also an editor. I know what each side of that desk looks like, and it’s helped me become a better writer and avoid the many pitfalls I’ve seen while wearing my editor hat.
There are times when I ask myself, “Is this writer looking for a way to get their work rejected ON PURPOSE? They must be, because otherwise why would they do something so stupid and…and…inexplicable?” After pounding my head on the desk for 20 minutes, minimum, I straighten my glasses, take a huge gulp of coffee and compose myself. How do I break it to them professionally, yet gently? It’s difficult at times. Trust me, it is.
If I made a list of all the idiotic things writers do that make them flirt with — or outright coax — rejection, I could be here for days, weeks or years. Let’s take a handful at a time, shall we? There will be plenty to cover for the foreseeable future. Trust me on that!
Here are some things you should NOT do if you plan to get published at any time in the near future:
*Don’t submit handwritten manuscripts. Certainly not on colored or perfumed paper. It screams, “Amateur!”
* Don’t ignore spelling or grammar. Learn it. If it’ll be a while before you get a rudimentary grasp of either, then HIRE an editor to polish your work!
* Don’t use weird fonts or formats in your manuscript. You might think Viner Hand is an interesting font to use, but it makes this editor all stabby!
* Don’t ignore the basics of manuscript format. Scour the internet for information, buy a book on the subject or ask a seasoned writer how to prepare your manuscript.
* Don’t tell me you’ll be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Maybe you will, but chances are you won’t. Besides, if that’s the only reason why you’re writing (to get rich and famous), you’d be better off playing the lottery.
* Don’t think because I’m friendly, I’m your best buddy. I may like you and be friendly and personable to you, but business is business. How I feel about you personally has no bearing on whether your manuscript is worthy of publication. No, you can’t have my home phone number or address. Don’t ask.
These are only a handful of things you shouldn’t do when you’re hoping to get your work published, and there are many more. If you want to save your editor’s sanity and make a good impression, DON’T do any of the things I’ve mentioned. Editors are overworked and underpaid. Please make our lives easier by submitting professional work. Creativity doesn’t give you license to be LAZY in your presentation to a potential publisher/editor/agent.
Till next time, I hope to avoid pulling out more clumps of hair in frustration. I’m already finding gray strands of hair on top of my head, and this does NOT make me happy. Please don’t add more to the bunch, I’m begging you!
Now…back to writing! Make it good, make it entertaining, make it PROFESSIONAL!