by Laura Michelle Thomas
Let me begin with the truth. Editors owe writers nothing.
Editors are extremely busy, hardworking individuals who are passionate about the written word and care deeply about writers. You could say that disrespecting an editor is like disrespecting your mother. It’s never okay and you need to apologize if you do it, even unknowingly. Better yet, though, is to act respectfully in the first place. Here are five tips for communicating with editors.
Follow submission guidelines exactly as the editor has laid them out. Sending in a manuscript of any kind to an editor in your own free form style regardless of the instructions provided by a publishing company or contest organizer, is rude. It says to the editor, “I know more than you and I’m not going to listen to anything you say.” It also shows an inability to follow instructions. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t listen.
Use “Dear Editor” as the salutation for your email or cover letter. Don’t presume that an editor is your buddy and certainly don’t write an email that is overly familiar. Keep it short and professional.
Wait quietly. Once you have submitted your work, you have to wait. Editors of quality contests and publications get dozens or hundreds of submissions every week, sometimes every day. They have to sift through all of it and do their best to reply to everyone, even those whose work is not published. Don’t harangue an editor with constant emails. The squeaky wheel is not appreciated.
Don’t assume that you are entitled to anything. Sometimes writers get caught up in the excitement of getting published and they make the mistake of asking for feedback or advice as if they are entitled to it. No busy editor that I know will give a writer like this any extra help, not when the tone is demanding. But, I do know as I have done this myself, that if I have had a few correspondences with writers who are polite and respectful that I will tend to give them a little extra help if they ask nicely.
Say thank you. Just like moms, editors love to get appreciative notes from the ones they have helped get one step closer to success.