How NOT to Approach Editors

Although this blog’s focus is book publishing, today’s post can be applied to magazine publishing as well.

Keep this list handy to remind you how NOT to approach editors.

  1. Don’t tell the editor how much everyone loves your writing. Editors know “everyone” means family and friends–the people who love you. These are the people who want to encourage you, but they aren’t the best judges of your work.
  2. Don’t call the editor by his/her first name when you write your query letter. You don’t know the editor well enough yet to be on a first name basis. Remember your professionalism because publishing is business.
  3. Don’t use clever openings in your correspondence. For example, “Dear Decision-maker, make your best decision today and read my submission,” won’t help you as much as get you a groan and maybe a toss into the circular file.
  4. Don’t tackle more than one issue per correspondence. You risk something getting overlooked if you do. And if you’re corresponding via email, be sure you update the subject line rather than just hit “RE:” all the time.
  5. Don’t provide the editor a list of places you’ve already submitted (and been rejected). It’s just not cool to show an editor your failures.
  6. Don’t close with a cute ending such as “Anxiously yours.” Stay professional with “Sincerely” or something similar.
  7. Don’t call the editor to follow up unless the editor has told you it’s okay to call. Editors are overworked and interruptions often frustrate them–the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to interest them in your work. Send an email or letter instead. If you send a letter, enclose a postcard addressed to you that the editor can check off “Still considering,” “Not Interested,” “Interested and will get back to you.”
  8. Don’t use ink-jet printers in your printed correspondence. Use laser printers to eliminate smears.

There you have it. Now that you know how NOT to approach editors, what’s stopping you from submitting your query letters?

Happy writing!


2 Responses to “How NOT to Approach Editors”

  1. 1 drtombibey January 27, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I told my editor if she didn’t shoot me or sue me we’d get along fine and we have.

    Dr. B

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