Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tips for Dealing With Your Editor

Despite the fact that you may spend 4-14 hours per day typing away in isolation, writers don’t live in a vacuum all the time. Once you break into the freelance writing world, one of your main contacts is likely to be editors. These are the people that dole out assignments, accept finished work and likely provide direction. It is in your best interest to proactively manage the writer-editor relationship. Here’s some simple ways to make sure you’re doing your part.

Take Responsibility.
Despite the editor’s role in your writing, the writing is still your job. Turn in the most flawless work you can. Seek answers to your own questions. Find and use the best research and resources available to you. In this way the editor is like your boss: make their job as easy as possible, and they’re likely to return the favor.

Understand Where They’re Coming From.
It is the editor’s job to protect the final product, whether that product be a magazine, a website or a company’s marketing materials. The editor isn’t out to get you- he/she is out to produce the most perfect final product possible. Understanding the editor’s job will go a long way toward making your job more pleasant. Accept their feedback, make the revisions and get on with your life. No one wins a power struggle!

Communicate. . .And Do It Well.
This is probably the number one thing a writer can do toward making an editor-writer relationship work. Understand the editor’s needs, the company’s needs and the product you are providing. Procure all the information you need to do your job well. Ask questions, listen for answers, and take direction well. These are all part and parcel of communicating with your managing editor.

Incorporating these simple strategies into your relationships will help you to work well with your editor, resulting in a positive experience for both of you.

Top 6 Rules for Networking

1. Include Everyone You Know on Your Network

When it comes to networking everyone you know can be a useful contact. While someone may not be directly involved in your field, he or she may know another person who is.

2. Be Willing to Ask for Help

In order to get help you have to ask for it. Don't be shy. If you need advice call someone on your network.

3. Be Willing to Give Help

Your network doesn't exist only for your benefit. You should be willing to offer your help to others as well. So, if someone on your network asks you to speak to his nephew about your job, you must be willing to do it. If you hear news that someone on your network can benefit from take the time to share it.

4. Don't Use Your Network for Only Job Hunting

Many people have the misconception that networking is only for job hunting. They attempt to utilize it only when looking for work. Well, guess what? If you only get in touch with your contacts when you are looking for work, your network may dry up. Not only that — your contacts may come to know you as "that person who's always looking for a job."

5. Keep in Touch With Your Network Contacts

Check in with your contacts every now and then. Find out what they're up to and let them know what is happening with your career. It will be much easier to track someone down after not talking to them for a couple of months than it will be after being out of touch for a year or longer.

6. Thank Your Contacts for Their Help

When one of your contacts gives you advice or provides you with a job lead don't forget to send her a thank you note. You can use email to do this.

Submit flawless, polished documents

You need to submit flawless, polished documents, but the demands on your time are great and lead to typos and regular “oops” moments. The solution? Create a revision system and stick to it. Here’s a sample.

  1. Start Beforehand. The secret to consistently catching your mistakes is to know exactly what those mistakes are. Begin by setting aside a document, Blackberry memo screen or even a simple notebook in which to note recurring mistakes. Doing this gives you a self check list, which we’ll revisit in a moment.
  2. Use Technology. Immediately after you finish a document, run a simple grammar and spell check. I’m not advocating a complete dependence on these methods by any means, but use them to catch the most glaring of mistakes and typos.

Walk Away. Now, I know (trust me, I know) that you might not feel that you can afford the time to walk away.

But it’s necessary. In a pinch, you can start working on your next project, but in reality it is best to clear the air for a bit.

  1. Use Your List. Remember the list you’ve been making for the past couple months [mentioned in point: Start beforehand]? The one we referenced in step #1? Now is the time to get it out and start checking. I’ve even known some writer to format their list with checkboxes, make multiple copies, and keep a cache of them ready to go.
  2. Do a Read Aloud. You’ll want to either read aloud yourself, or use software designed to read your words back to you.
  3. Get a Second Opinion. I like to have an up and coming proofreader on retainer to provide my second set of eyes, but in a pinch, a spouse or cube mate works just as well.
  4. Print It Out. My last step is always a final read over with a hard copy. In fact, I often change rooms in order to complete my last revision. By mixing it up and getting out of your comfort zone, you can jog your brain enough to find that one last elusive little typo.
That’s it. Of course not every system is right for every writer. Find what works for you, and stick to it!