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.
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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.