05/17/2011 (12:20 pm)

The Editor’s Perspective

Filed under: Writing Basics |

I’ve done three issues of the Health Freedom Network Newsletter so far and, while this isn’t my first stint as an editor, it has been eye opening.  I’ve always prided myself on delivering top quality material that requires little or no editing.  I’ve talked about that more than once in this blog.  Most professional writers are the same – it’s what makes them professional.

After only three months of involvement in this newsletter, what I’ve learned is that a popular publication that receives a lot of submissions (and in this case, letters to the editor), gets a lot of material that is, well, sub-par I guess is the nicest way to put it.  Some is to be expected: LTEs are not exactly coming from writing pros, so the occasional use of a street term or text message garble is to be expected.  After all, teachers in high school and college are complaining bitterly about the “txt spch” their students often write in.

I’ve also learned that some experts who do a lot of writing you might read in various publications are actually horrible writers whose prowess with words is almost entirely thanks to editors.  I should have known this, of course, because I happen to ghost write for a couple of experts who are not particularly good writers themselves – which makes me wonder why these others aren’t being advised to do the same; hire a ghost to do the writing.

This post wasn’t meant as a complaint rant, though reading through it I can see that this might be the impression you’re getting.  The whole point is to show you that editors appreciate professional writing.  That means well-written, error-free writing that is to specification.

Here’s two examples, again from the Health Freedom Network Newsletter.

Our first example is an expert in her field.  She has been published numerous times around the Web, has a blog and website that features her writing on a regular basis, and has appeared in print in a handful of publications nationally.  Yet, this sentence was included in her submission to me (and ultimately re-written by myself, as she could not send me a revision before print):

In this field we seen a lot of controversy over the mis-use of the way that advertising and marketing or labeling is done to harm the over all industry by giving false proclaimations and fraudulent claims.

Not only does the sentence have misspelled words and typos, but it’s a long run-on as well.  This was a regular feature of her submission.

On the same token, another expert submitted work that the only beef I had with was that it was 40 words over the 500 word limit for 1 page.  He gladly did some cutting to make it fit and, amazingly enough, cut most of that out of his own byline rather than the article itself.  This shows he was more interested in getting the information out there than he was in self-promotion, a sure sign of integrity.  In return, I restored his byline to its original length and shrunk the font and his photo by 1.5 points so that it would still fit without crowding.

These two examples are typical, I think, of the kind of thing editors likely deal with almost daily.  It should make writers appreciate not only what editor’s do, but also what they like to see and will reward.

Good writing is always rewarded, even if the rejection for the publication is just written personally or with a nicer tone.  Quite often, I’ve received submissions that weren’t a fit topically for the newsletter and have referred the writer, since the information was very well presented, to other publications as suggested venues for it.

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