"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Survive the Screening Out Process With Editors

Ask anybody who has ever operated a government funding program, or provided jobs for the general public, and they’ll tell you that as much as they’d like to accommodate all those that apply, they simply can’t

The reality is, they must operate within certain restrictions and resources.
Truth be told, there are only so many dollars to dole out, or slots to fill due to budgetary guidelines, timing, and strategic goals.

So, what does this have to do with writing?
I’m glad you asked.
A similar principle prevails when it comes to editors and publishers.
Unfortunately, many naïve freelancers believe that because editors need ongoing content for the success and growth of their publications, that it is simply a situation of supply and demand. That as long as they produce quality pieces, they will get paid on the regular and be able to support themselves through their livelihood .

Not quite. Not now.
Here’s why: in a tough economy, publishing dollars are shrinking, while the pool of talented writers is increasing exponentially due to the advent of the Internet, (and a tough economy). It’s the “Catch 22” of writing today.

With this in mind, here are five timely tips to increase odds in your favor.

1. Have them “at hello.”
Not only are publishing dollars shrinking, so is the time-frame in which busy, over-worked editors will allow you to “wow” them and win them over. Start with a compelling headline, and a good lead in. Effective openings include: a provocative question, an important statistic, a bold claim, or a statement that challenges conventional wisdom. Seal the deal by capturing their attention with quality content. Quickly. Time is of the essence.

2. Make it hard to say no.
Compare and compete. Does your idea stand out as original? Are your credentials more impressive than the “average Joe”? Does your article show an understanding of the mission, slant, and audience of the publication? The more items you are able to satisfy of an editor’s mental “wish list” the less likely you are to be rejected.

3. Leave no stone unturned.
Like most “consumers” editors are looking for the most bang for their buck. With this in mind, go beyond the basics. Use side-bars, unusual statistics, expert quotes, relevant links and resources, and photos to give your submission more mileage. Additionally, play the devil’s advocate. In other words, try to consider any potential objections or criticisms that an editor might have and address them beforehand.

4. Get intimate with editors.
Don’t just familiarize yourself with their guidelines and preferences. Know their pet peeves. Their affiliations. Read their Bios and their editorials. “Knowledge is power.”

5. Adhere to Editorial Calendars.
More and more magazines, websites, and even Blogs are implementing Editorial Calendars to establish themes and designated deadlines for content being published. Examples would be:


Follow these five tips to increase your odds of publication and your bottom line.

Thoughts? What tips or suggestions would you add?


  1. Thanks so much for these tips, Jennifer. They are truly universal - for fiction and non fiction. These will help start 2012 on the right writing foot! :)

    Happy weekend!

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 2, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    You too, Karen! I'm hoping we'll both be abundantly blessed in 2012!

  3. This is a great way to usher in 2012. I will definitely consider these as I put forth more effort to be published in my six ideal publications.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 13, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    This is good to hear Marcie; keep me posted on your progress.