I recently submitted an article idea to a new publication I just became acquainted with. Because this was over Facebook, I got into a little chit-chat via Messenger with the editor-in-chief, who seemed very nice.
She also seemed very frustrated, confessing to me that she’d recently had to rethink her whole entire article acceptance process.
Well, with good reason. Too many of the people who’d promised to write articles for her inaugural issue happened to turn in badly edited copy. I’m not sure about the specifics there. I didn’t ask. But I can easily imagine nonetheless.
That’s genuinely not meant to be a snotty, superior statement on this editor’s part. I actually can’t stand snotty, superior statements by anyone, editors included.
It’s simply meant as an acknowledgement of human nature, which, when it comes to writing, goes something like this:
I know exactly what I want to say as I’m typing. I’m an expert on the subject matter I’m writing about. I even teach it all the time. My students love me! Therefore, I have every reason to believe that what I meant to type out and what I did type out are exactly the same thing: a clear, concise, masterfully worded message.
Pay attention, kids! This is how it’s done.
Once again, an anti-snotty clarification is probably in order here…
With the indented paragraphs above, I in no way mean to imply that you’re delusional. You may very well know what you’re talking about. You may very well be an expert on the subject matter you’re writing about. You may very well teach classes on it, and your students may very well love you.
I’m not calling any of that into question.
But that doesn’t mean that what you meant to type out and what you did in fact type out are exactly the same thing.
We human beings have a bad habit of looking at the world through our own perspectives. And, in our defense, it’s actually impossible not to be at least a bit myopic. After all, we’re operating out of our own personalities, strengths, weaknesses and experiences.
In many ways, it’s those personalities, strengths, weaknesses and experiences that make the world go ‘round. At the same time, those very same factors can trip us up, making us see things the way we see things instead of the way they actually are.
That can be a problem in any set of circumstances for any number of reasons. If you’ve submitted an article, those reasons could include:
Repetitive sentences that look sloppy
Word choices or phrases that don’t make sense
Paragraphs that run on too long
Paragraphs that ramble
Sentences that ramble
Silly spelling errors
Needlessly or unintentionally offensive statements…
And the list goes on to an embarrassing length.
Any one of those problems by themselves can turn a submissions editor against you. Logically then, the more you send in, the less likely it is that you’ll get a positive response from that magazine or journal or online publication you’ve been dying to make a showing in.
So writers, if you want to make a good impression, get an editor to look over your article. Before you submit it.