Monday, February 27, 2012

Are You Listening?

As the nonfiction editor for a children's magazine, I like to help writers get their work published.  But some submissions need a little editing before I send an acceptance.  I encourage writers to revise and then to re-submit. 

Most of the time, contributors are willing to edit their work.  Once however, a writer got a little huffy upon reading my suggestion.  I had asked her to reformat her manuscript as specified in our guidelines.  She wrote back to say that it was my job, not hers to make that edit.  Needless to say, her submission was not published.  Pity, it would have taken her less than five minutes to make that revision.  I wasn’t asking her to do anything unreasonable.  All publications expect writers to follow the submission guidelines. 

In a Writer’s Digest interview, genre-bending bestseller James Lee Burke encourages writers to listen to what an editor or publisher has to say.  He said:  “They’ve done it lots of times and usually even if you disagree, if you will listen, you show respect for the person who is trying to help you and you learn that there is at least an element of viability in what you’re being told.”  

I agree with Burke.  It all comes down to two words—listen and respect.  That’s how you learn.  That's how you improve as a writer.  That’s what it takes to see your work published. 

James Lee Burke couldn’t have said it any better.

No comments: