There are many things a writer has to have in mind when trying to get
published. Among these are learning how to write a professional critique and
having credentials. However, most aspiring authors too often miss out on one of
the most critical elements necessary to become a published author: editing. No
matter how good your query letter is, you still need work that's written well.
Even if you have good credentials, that won't matter to an editor or literary
agent. When they see work that is either poorly edited or not even edited at
all, one word screams out at them: amateur.
Having your work edited really can make or break your chances of getting
published. While first-class queries and excellent credentials can impress
editors, they absolute loathe badly edited work. After all, isn't the job of an
editor to make sure every manuscript is edited? It is. Therefore, editors can't
stand work that's not edited or not well written. Why is editing your work so
important to the editors you submit it to? Because writing that needs editing
means a lot of work for editors. It takes time to edit; precious time that
editors don't have. If you haven't edited your writing properly before sending
it off, then odds are that you're chances of becoming a published author are
slim. Bad editing is a turnoff for editors: the last thing they need is more
work. Therefore, it's best for every writer to have this in mind before they
send their work out to editors and agents. Not only does badly edited work
disappoint editors and agents, but it also tells them that they're dealing with
a writer who isn't professional. Having professionalism is vital to becoming
published, and without that, no agent or editor is going to take you seriously
as a writer.
How can you avoid this? How can you show editors and agents that you're a
There's only one way, really: show them that you care. Show them that you are
a writer dedicated to your work. All you really need is a bit of care and
effort. Make a commitment to start editing your work. No writer enjoys having to
edit his or her own work – that's a nightmare for most of us – but a little effort
goes a long way. As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect", and I think that
the more a writer proofreads and edits his or her own work, the better they'll
become at it. Once writers master the art of editing, they've saved themselves a
lot of rejection letters and have increased their chances of getting published.
In what way should you, as a writer, go about editing your work? First, you
will need to proofread and copyedit your work, which means correcting any
grammatical, spelling and language mistakes. Then, you will also need to do some
content editing, or critiquing. This includes proofreading as well as editing
for content, clarity and making sure your manuscript flows properly and can be
There are different paths you can take to edit your work, and the following
are what I suggest. First, you can learn how to edit your work yourself. Though
this takes time, it shows you care. If you follow this suggestion, then you will
also save yourself a lot of money on editorial services and learn how to be an
editor at the same. My second suggestion is that you get a very close friend or
relative (these can include a spouse, parent or brother) and get them to be your
personal editor. By having someone you know well to edit and critique your work,
not only will you get the most valuable evaluation of your work, but you will
also be more willing to listen when your editor suggests improvements. Because
you know your editor well, you know that when they give you suggestions that
improve your writing they are not being biased; rather, they care for you and
your writing. I myself learn a lot any time someone critiques my work, and
because of listening to them and learning from my mistakes, my writing always
improves. My third and final suggestion for all writers is, if you don't agree
with my first two suggestions, then do not go alone on this: hire someone as
your professional editor.
Pay for an editorial or critique service to help you
improve your writing. It will prove worth the money in the end, when you are a
By following the above suggestions, you'll never have badly written or poorly
edited wok again. You'll literally find yourself receiving fewer rejections from
editors, and soon you will no longer be a writer – you will be an author.
Rocky Reichman is a freelance writer and the Editor and publisher of the
online literary magazine
Literary Magic (www.LiteraryMagic.com).
He writes fiction short stories and nonfiction articles for many local
magazines, newspapers and websites.
Rocky's absolutely right to identify the importance of
editing your work before submitting it for publication, but I'd personally
suggest that writers should use all three of the methods he identifies,
rather than seeing these as options to choose from. You should always edit your
work as well as you can yourself before passing it on to anybody. Once you've
done this, a suitable friend or family member may be able to help you tackle
issues you've missed before going to the expense of having your work
professionally edited, but (and this is where I disagree with Rocky) I don't
think this can be seen as a substitute for a professional editor. Contrary to
Rocky's opinion, I'd suggest
that your "personal editor" will always be biased – they will
always tell you your work is great (after all, they have a relationship with you
outside the book, which they have to consider), and – unless they have
experience in the publishing industry – there's no reason to think they'll be
any better than you at spotting errors and inconsistencies.
A professional editor (i.e. someone with
experience working as an editor within the publishing industry) will be able to
help you with correct manuscript formatting, advise you on how to make your work
a publishable book, rather than just a good book, and, most importantly,
will have years of experience plying the trade of editing – and if they don't,
then don't use them. Far too many people start offering "proofreading" services
under the misconception that it will be "easy money" – after all, you've just
got to read, right? Wrong. Reading and editing are completely different skills.
When I graduated with a degree in English I was certainly a sensitive reader –
but when I took a simple editorial test I missed almost every deliberate mistake
on the paper. As readers, we tend to "grey out" mistakes in order to smooth our
consumption of the information – as editors, we must learn to do exactly the
opposite. In a sense, you have to undo all the years of education where you
gradually learned to recognise words by their overall shape, and go back to the
stage where you recognised words by spelling out their individual letters. This
isn't an easy task, and you shouldn't assume that the fact that someone is an
intelligent person, or an avid reader, qualifies them to properly edit a
So if you can afford it, it's
definitely worth going to the expense of having your work
professionally edited –
but if you do, make sure the person you use has some kind of
editorial track record, and isn't just someone who has set up
with the hope of some "easy" extra money.
To have your work edited or critiqued by
professional editors through firstwriter.com,
Information technology has radically altered the
world of publishing in ways that we are only beginning to recognise. The New
York Times Magazine ran an article earlier this year on The Open Directory
Project, an initiative to create a centralized library that could contain
virtually every book in existence. The project may not be complete for several
years and the impact has scarcely been examined, but we can make some
predictions about how it and other electronic databases will change how we read.
The information era marks a sea change in
publishing and means that not only will more information be available to more
people but also that many more authors can get their ideas out on the market.
The impact of this flood of information, at least at first blush, seems to
suggest that more information means that the quality of books, periodicals and
magazines will be diminished. That is, until we explore the new dynamics at
The principles of open sourcing mean that while
many more people may become authors, there will be many more editors as well.
Take Wikipedia, for example; there have been a few gaffes in the online
dictionary, but by and large, it fairly accurate. This may be because, on
average people tend to be pretty good critics; or consider the conclusion of
James Surowiecki, who wrote The Wisdom of Crowds last year. If you look
at the individual decisions made by a majority of people, and use that
collective information as a compass, you're likely to head out in the right
The information age does mean that the critical
thinking is at a premium and publicly required of more people than ever before
in human history. Critical thinking is the key to navigating this oncoming era,
and means that readers will need to do a better job of sorting through
information to discover very quickly what is doggerel and what is valuable to
Authors may use information technology to access
a very wide audience of publishers and marketers, who print, review and market
their books; although it is important to remember that many more people will be
making the decisions on what is a good product. So based on the Surowiecki
principle, even though publication may more easily go to print, an author has to
demonstrate competency to many more marketers, reviewers, readers than ever
before, and effectively submit to a democratic process.
With this in mind, successful publishing hasn't
gotten any easier, and in fact the decisions for an author become more diverse
and varied. It will become more important than ever before for an author to make
intimate connections with advertisers, reviewers and publishers, casting nets in
every direction into the seas of information, and holding on tight to the
connections that are made.
With respect to the craft, as any successful
author will tell you, the principles of good writing remain the same for
eternity: always tell the truth.
Jim Kozubek is a newspaper reporter for the
Union Leader in New Hampshire and also the founder of The Phenomenological
Review, a magazine that reviews books and provides advertising space to
authors promoting new releases. Contact
The Bursary is open to both novice and experienced writers over
18, resident in the United Kingdom or Ireland. Candidates are invited to write about any subject, as long as it is substantially a work of imagination and fiction.
Closing date for entries is November 30, 2006. For more details see
Tom Howard Poetry Contest
4th year. US$3,500 in prizes. All styles and themes welcome. September 30 deadline. Submit online or by mail.
parents seeks submissions Material is being sought for a proposed book dedicated to mothers and single fathers.
Submissions should cover what you, as a mother or single father "did all day", from the mundane getting the mail, to the humorous or horrific stories of what the kids put you
Potential contributors should email Kelly at
firstname.lastname@example.org, with subject line "Mom Book
[your name] [the date (i.e. 8-7-06)]".
Féile Filíochta Poetry Competition launched The 18th annual Féile Filíochta International Poetry Competition is now open for
submissions. Winners in the Adult
categories will receive €5,000 and the Féile Filíochta Poem of Europe Award.
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