Consider these traits that separate a rookie and professional writer.
When you submit your writing, do you come across as a rookie or a professional? Consider these rookie traits to avoid and these professional characteristics to pursue.
Rookie or Professional:
You May Be a Rookie Writer If You…
- Forget to spell-check your work: This is simply inexcusable.
- Leave “Track Changes” on and include your reviewer’s edits: This means you were in a hurry or haven’t yet mastered your word processor.
- Submit the wrong version: This error tells me you’re not organized.
- Assume the submission guidelines don’t apply to you: Guidelines are for the writer’s benefit. Therefore, learn them and embrace them.
- Insist no editing or require approval of all changes: All submissions will receive a robust edit. That’s a reality of periodical publishing. The only exception is publishers who don’t care about quality 0151and do you really want to be associated with poor quality?
- Think artistic formatting equals creative writing: The use of italic, underline, bold, and all caps to add emphasis is not a sign of writing creativity but a lack thereof.
- Insert needless self-promotion: If you do this once, I may edit it out; if done too much, I’ll simply reject your submission.
- Argue to have your work accepted: No means no—and there’s no discussion.
- Beg for feedback: A writer who needs help with his or her craft should seek it from a different source prior to submission.
Rookie or Professional:
You Are a Professional Writer If You…
- Produce articles that require few edits: You do whatever it takes to submit your best work.
- Do what you say: When you promise a piece, you always deliver.
- Meet deadlines: Deadlines keep a magazine’s production schedule on time. Therefore you respect deadlines, always meeting or exceeding expectations and never requesting an extension. You also understand that merely submitting your piece on time doesn’t guarantee a place in the next issue.
- Know your target: Be familiar with the publication you’re submitting to, understanding its style and content.
- Understand how the industry works: You comprehend periodical lead times and space limitations; you accept edits and deferred publication.
- Minimize non-work-related communication: You keep your communication focused on business and don’t engage in superfluous interaction.
I’m not expecting perfection, but striving for excellence is a worthy goal all writers should pursue.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.