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The following material is provided by WRITERLIST a Free service providing marketing and other information to writers. This material is copyrighted by Allen Rolf, but permission is hereby given for reproduction and distribution for non-commercial purposes. For more information, email WRITERLIST


Overcoming Editor Block!

by Allen Rolf

You've probably heard about "Writer Block," but this piece is about "Editor Block!" Yes, it does exist, particularly among new writers; an abnormal fear or awe of editors that keeps one from submitting his work.

How many times have you thought or heard: "Well, I'm not good enough yet. I'll wait until I have more experience!" Sock drawers are full of this kind of thinking.

What the writer is really saying is: "I'm afraid of the editor and rejection."

Take rejection first! It's probably the best training any writer can have. Every published writer knows that rejection is part of the game of writing. There are many reasons for rejection: subject content, writing style, wrong manuscript to the wrong publisher, or simply that there is no need for the piece you sent out. Most rejections are due to poor marketing, but a fair number are the roll of the wheel .... other manuscripts demand more attention from the editor.

But what about this editor ... stern, judgemental, harsh, uncivilized, ignorant, and a poor arbiter of real talent! Editors, of course, are none of these; they're just busy people who are paid to represent the reader.

How is this, you think, .. a representative of the reader? It's true! An editor is simply a person who is paid to find good material for the reader. Unfortunately, many writers look at editors the way they looked at English teachers who used rather red pencils and doled out less than pleasing grades!

So, if an editor's job is to obtain only the best material for his readers, doesn't it make sense for him to develop every producing writer that comes along? In the trade, it's called a "stable" and every good editor has a stable of writers who will consistently produce the type of manuscript he needs.

Many years ago I wrote for an electronic magazine and the editor would call regularly to see what I was working on. After a while, he was calling and giving me assignments. This was a quarterly magazine for the electronic hobbyist (Radio TV Experimenter), and in one issue I wrote nearly half of the features. Next, two other editors in the same field started calling and giving assignments and over a five year period I published over 200 pieces in that magazine field!

How can you do it? Simple! Pick three magazines (or any other type of publishing) you want to write for; produce a continuous flow of manuscripts (or ideas), and either of two things will happen: 1) You'll get published or 2) if you aren't published, the editors will start writing messages on why your work was rejected.

To get to 1 simply follow the messages you get on 2. Of course, you don't submit your work to all three publishers at once; my approach was (and still is) to send the manuscript first to the highest paying magazine, then to the second, and finally the third. An interesting thing happens here: when editors two and three see you published in one, they will come as suitors if they are convinced you can produce consistently.

My first job in writing ended after two weeks when Pulitzer winner, Harry Ashmore, told me I would never learn to write obituaries, much less a letter home asking for money, and suggested that I go into the insurance business. Actually, he was the best editor/teacher I ever had because I vowed to prove him wrong and wrote continuously for nearly two years before I had my first freelance piece published. The kind editor who bought that piece also became a fast friend and mentor and taught me many, many things about magazine writing!

Here are two handy ideas he taught me: 1) A monthly publication will have a complete reader turn-over every three years, and 2) A monthly magazine will have a new editor every three to five years. This means you can often submit the same article, up-dated of course, every three years and that when an editor leaves for another magazine, he will take his list or producers with him. Now you have your old market, plus a new one! Sort of like a stock split!

The purpose of this piece is to show you that editors are really good allies, so submit, submit, submit, and get to know the editor on a personal basis. Chances are you'll not only make money from your work, but learn a few writing secrets along the way!

I love editors!

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