Speaking as an Editor

two things that really irritate me – and how I can be bribed

This time around, I’m donning not only my author’s hat, but my editor’s cap as well – yes, it looks silly, but hey, this is me.

Two things really irk me. And they are somewhat related.

One is opening a submission and finding it full of errors. Granted, I doubt if I’ve ever read one that doesn’t have something wrong with it, even just a missing quote or comma, because it’s virtually impossible to achieve perfection in a manuscript. But when a story is loaded with typographical errors, has missing or extraneous words throughout, doesn’t seem to have even seen a spell checker, then I wonder, as an editor, how much effort the writer has bothered with, and how much he or she even cares.

And as a writer, it bothers me because I go over my writing several times before even submitting it to my critique group. After getting it back, and fixing any errors they find, I go over it again – and even read it aloud to see what I’ve missed.

The second is following submission guidelines. For two reasons:

  1. As a writer, I strive to follow instructions to the letter any time I submit a story to any publisher or agent. If I’ve submitted a story six times, chances are I have six copies on my hard drive, one with each publisher’s name attached so I know which format should be sent to whom.
  2. As an editor, when a story is incorrectly formatted, it means the editor has to take the time to make changes that he should not have had to make. Oh, granted, it doesn’t take much time electronically to change single-spacing to double, and to omit that blank line and insert an indent for each paragraph, but the point is, if it doesn’t take that much time, why didn’t the writer do it in the first place?
    Also, if a story is not submitted in the correct file format (in our case rtf file*), it causes headaches to get a story ready for print and for upload. Or in some cases, the file cannot even be opened: automatic rejection there. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

So if you want to give your editor a reason to be irritated before even reading your submission, I’ve got two great ways listed above.

I was asked facetiously once if I could be bribed. I replied yes – a clean, crisp, properly submitted story. Chocolate would too, but it clogs my modem.

* the rtf file format was true for RGR Prime, not RGR 2.0.

originally published in The Sword Review 2006-04-14

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