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Part IV of “How to Lose an Editor in 10 Ways” BELIEVE YOU ARE PERFECT

Whew! There’s a lot to learn when you’re striving for rejection. Here is your last round of ideas to help you to master the art of losing an editor in ten ways.

Way 8: Don’t Edit Your Work

No one’s work is perfect. So, to seal a rejection of your manuscript, skip editing. Editors who receive manuscripts with typos, grammar issues, run-on sentences and inconsistent storyline have no choice but to slam-dunk your manuscript into the trash bin.

“Don’t submit a story without editing and proofreading it first,” said Courtney Lasater, editor of Keys for Kids.“A polished page will make your story shine!”

Successful freelancers often take a break before going back to edit their work. Allowing themselves to be refreshed while distancing themselves a bit from their work helps them look at it with fresh editing eyes later. Sometimes they will print it out and get away from the computer to edit. During this process, they verify that a problem was presented and solved, that the story flows, characters are appropriately portrayed, and that each scene serves a purpose.

But if your goal is to avoid publication, you won’t need to worry about the editing stage.

Way 9: Don’t Read Your Story to Anyone Else

If you want to fail miserably, don’t let anyone else read your manuscript. Writers who hope to be published have their work read by friends or family members. But a children’s writer who hopes to be published should invite children for whom the book is intended to read and critique their work.

Writers gain great insight as to the quality of their work. Did the children stay engaged? Were they excited when reading the rescue scene? Did they ask any questions about the story? Did they want to read it again?

“Don’t submit a snoozer,” said Stephen O’Rear, senior associate editor of Clubhouse magazine. “If they squirm (or fall asleep) before you finish, then it won’t work in print either. Try cutting run-on sections or adding humor to hold a kid’s interest.”

Way 10: Don’t Welcome Any Changes by the Editor

If an editor has accepted your manuscript for publication, don’t worry. You can still strain the editor/writer relationship and lose your chances of future publication opportunities. Simply complain about any additional edits they have made in the final version of your story.

“Even if it’s purchased, edits will be made,” said Kate Jameson, assistant editor of Clubhouse Jr. She emphasized that the reason for changes is often not because they don’t think the story is good. “We want the piece to match the tone and style of our magazine. Even authors who have been writing for us for years get edited or asked to rewrite the story. So, don’t get attached to your story exactly the way it is.”

Kandi Zeller, editor of teen devotional publication Unlocked, encouraged aspiring and seasoned writers: “We love freelance writers,” said Zeller.  “They are an important part of God’s kingdom: they share the Gospel with their words!” She encouraged writers by stating that even if a manuscript is rejected, it does not mean the author is a bad writer or that the editor wouldn’t be interested in working with them in the future. “It just means that particular piece was not a good fit for the devotional. If you do receive a rejection, please try again.”

Zeller’s statement reflects the attitude of most editors. They desire to work with freelancers and are willing to work on building relationships with them. Don’t let a rejection discourage you. Think of it as simply a redirection notice.

I hope this series was helpful. And I hope that instead of losing an editor, your takeaway will be how to win the heart of every editor you meet. Do the extra work; go the extra mile. Build those relationships and you will find yourself published. If you feel truly called by God to write, continue to pursue the calling.

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If you missed the previous posts in this series, you’ll find them here:

Part I: SKIP THIS STEP,

Part II: HOW TO MESS UP YOUR CHARACTERS

Part III: COMPLICATE YOUR CONTENT

Cindy works as marketing manager and brand storyteller for Child and Parent Services, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization. She has written more than 525 articles for publication and a handful of book excerpts. Her published portfolio includes children’s stories, kids’ activities, profiles, how-to, humor, and human interest. Cindy’s website here.

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Part III of “How to Lose an Editor in 10 Ways” COMPLICATE YOUR CONTENT

We’ve been talking about some of the top 10 ways to lose an editor, based on interviews I conducted with editors at four Christian children’s publications. (Part I: SKIP THIS STEP, Part II: HOW TO MESS UP YOUR CHARACTERS) In this section we are going to cover four more ways to lose an editor through your content.

Way 4: Overstuff Your Story

Take extra time to “overstuff” your story so that it’s difficult to follow. The more words you take to describe anything and everything, the faster the editor (or any reader) will find themselves lost. Successful freelancers stay focused.

Editor Courtney Lasater of Keys for Kids cautioned writers not to “make your children’s devotional story too complicated. Keep things simple when it comes to characters and background information, spiritual illustrations, and the overall lesson/message.”

Way 5: Talk Down to Your Audience

Another great way to lose an editor is to “talk down” to your readers.

Editor Kandi Zeller with Untouched reminded writers to make sure their devotional pieces don’t sound condescending toward the reader. She noted that their publication “often receives submissions that have good messages but … come off as cheesy … or finger-wagging.”

“Remember how Jesus approached the people He was teaching,” she said, “with good stories, deep truth, lots of grace, and good questions.”

Way 6: Pad the Prequel

Another common mistake writers make is providing too much information before getting to the actual story.

Senior Associate Editor Stephen O’Rear of Clubhouse encouraged freelancers. “Don’t sell me the prequel,” he said. “I want the most interesting chapter in your characters’ lives, which is rarely the moment they meet.” He challenged writers to begin with already-existing relationships, “then give me scenes, jokes or gestures that inform the characters’ past.”

Way 7: Avoid Conflict

When it comes to crafting good content, O’Rear also challenged writers to create conflict in their stories.

“Fiction needs stakes,” O’ Rear said. Every major character should want something and take logical steps to attain it. That doesn’t mean the story has to end with ‘good’ kids winning and ‘bad’ kids losing; we learn from the pursuit.”

O’Rear recalled a story he received about a family preparing for hurricane season. “Fifty words in, I was already picturing the artwork,” he said. He waited for the action, or conflict, or “anything to propel the story.” But it never came. “I wanted to like it so badly, but it was a body with no muscles.”

To help overcome some of these content obstacles, study stories and devotions from these publications and others. Pay close attention to how they focus their story, escalate the conflict and bring it together in the end, while using tightly-knit sentences. These stories are entertaining, engaging, and written with that publication’s specific audience in mind.

But remember, if you want to lose an editor, ignore these rules about how to create good content!

Stay Tuned for the FINALE: “Part 4: Believe You Are Perfect”

Cindy works as marketing manager and brand storyteller for Child and Parent Services, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization. She has written more than 525 articles for publication and a handful of book excerpts. Her published portfolio includes children’s stories, kids’ activities, profiles, how-to, humor, and human interest. Cindy’s website here.

 

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Part II of “How to Lose an Editor in Ten Ways” HOW TO MESS UP YOUR CHARACTERS

Welcome to part 2 of my blog series. (Click here if you missed PART I: SKIP THIS STEP) Let’s delve into a couple more ways you can lose an editor. Incorporating some of these flaws into your characters will almost always guarantee a rejection. Here’s how:

Way 2: Make Your Characters the Wrong Age

Create characters younger than your reading audience. Why? Because kids do not enjoy reading about characters younger than themselves, according to Keys for Kids Editor Courtney Lasater. And if kids won’t read it, then there’s no point in the editor publishing it.

“Kids want to read about characters their age or slightly older,” said Lasater. “So, characters’ dialogue and behavior should reflect the upper half of the age range of the publication’s target audience.”

If your work doesn’t capture the audience of the publication, your work will not be accepted.

“We recently received a story that had funny characters and a good, solid message,” said Lasater, “but the main character’s behavior made him seem four or five years younger than he was supposed to be, much younger than our target audience.” Because of this, the publication had no choice but to reject the story.

Way 3: Don’t Keep it Real

You should be aware that over-emphasizing character behavior or dialogue will aide in helping you to lose an editor.

“In fiction submissions,” said Unlocked Editor Kandi Zeller, “don’t make the dialogue in your submission too unbelievable or melodramatic; don’t submit pieces that seem like after-school specials or made-for-TV movies.” Instead, Zeller encourages freelancers to create “well written fiction with believable characters and situations.”

In addition to the age of the character and behavior, Kate Jameson, assistant editor of Clubhouse Jr, reminded us that “Having a kid as a character doesn’t make it a kid’s story. Make sure the topic is appropriate for children.”

Successful writers, of course, can overcome these obstacles by reading material written for the age they wish to write for. In addition, observing kids in action and listening to them converse helps many freelancers master the art of storytelling with characters in the preferred age range.

But remember, if you want to lose an editor, simply make a mess of your characters!

COMING UP NEXT: How to Lose an Editor in 10 Ways “Part 3: Complicate Your Content”

Cindy works as marketing manager and brand storyteller for Child and Parent Services, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization. She has written more than 525 articles for publication and a handful of book excerpts. Her published portfolio includes children’s stories, kids’ activities, profiles, how-to, humor and human interest. Cindy’s website here.

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Part I of “How To Lose An Editor in Ten Ways” SKIP THIS STEP

The first (and possibly the most important) step to writing for publication is to read the writers guidelines and a few of the organization’s publications to get an idea of what they publish. So, if you are looking to lose an editor immediately, simply skip this step.

Three out of the four editors I interviewed mentioned that not taking time to read the writers guidelines or research their magazine will increase your chance of rejection. These guidelines hold crucial information, such as story length, voice, audience, type of stories, font and spacing, how/where to send your manuscript or whether to send a query letter first.

ADVICE FROM THE EDITORS

Assistant Editor Kate Jameson from Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr. Magazine suggests that if you want your work to actually be accepted, take time to learn about the publication. “Don’t send stories blind,” said Jameson. “Do your research. Know what the publication needs and the tone and style it uses.”

Editor Kandi Zeller from Unlocked Teen Devotional (sister publication of Keys for Kids), stated that “We love freelance writers. They are an important part of God’s kingdom; they share the Gospel with their words.” But she also noted the importance of knowing how to write to suit a specific publication.

“The guidelines are carefully crafted to reflect the needs of the publication,” said Zeller. “Following the guidelines will help you make good connections with the editor and with any other people who are involved in making decisions whether or not to accept your piece.”

For example, “Our devotional stories follow a specific format and style,” said Editor Courtney Lasater of Keys for Kids devotionals. She encourages writers to check out their detailed writer’s guidelines and to read a sample devotion. “Also, most of our stories feature an illustration that uses an everyday object or situation to help kids understand a spiritual concept,” said Lasater.

EDITORIAL GUIDELINES

If you would like to take their advice, here are a few links to get you started:

But remember, if you want to lose an editor, skip this step altogether!

 

Cindy works as marketing manager and brand storyteller for Child and Parent Services, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization. She has written more than 525 articles for publication and a handful of book excerpts. Her published portfolio includes children’s stories, kids’ activities, profiles, how-to, humor and human interest. Cindy’s website here.

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“J” is for Journey

Diane has always had a desire and a knack for impacting the lives of young children in the hopes of leading them to faith that embraces God and His son, Jesus. Whether that “calling” in life took the form of teaching preschoolers, being a church staff minister for children, or currently being a “lunch lady” for Greenville County Schools, the education, nurture, and care for preschoolers and children have been at the heart of Diane’s work.

JOINING the WRITE2IGNITE TEAM

So, it is with joy that she begins a further, deeper walk along the path of Christian education to one that includes writing with Union Gospel Press (very part-time job) and being a new Team member with Write 2 Ignite and the conference staff. Diane is ready and willing to serve in any way that God may open doors in Write 2 Ignite, so lives are touched and encouraged with the hope of God’s love. It is an honor to help leave a legacy of faith in Christ for a younger generation. What a surprise! What a delightful task for such times as this! What a dream come true in God’s timing. Being with this team will create a motion and movement in her spiritual life that can best be explained in this poem. Continue reading “J” is for Journey

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Meet New W2I Team Member- Tony Snipes!

 

Although he’s an illustrator at heart, Tony has always found himself helping creative people reach audiences and engage the public.

For more than 20 years Tony has carried out this calling professionally for newspapers, TV and now Christian radio, helping each traditional industry tell their stories using digital and social media platforms.

Tony’s path is starting to come full circle, as his experience in Marketing and Media are now being applied to ministry, coaching and the creative arts.

One of Tony’s cherished moments as an artist that happens to write, was publishing his book “God’s 7 Keys for Creative People”, an illustrated guide for individual and group study.

When it comes to Write2Ignite, Tony hopes to bring a new look at the proven business practices he’s seen corporate content creators use everyday. He believes Christian creatives can use the same practices to support and sustain their projects. He also foresees Write2Ignite being used as a springboard for young Christian storytellers, pointing them toward possible careers in Journalism and New Media.

Catch a glimpse of Tony in action at YourCreativeMission.com, and his latest visual storytelling project “The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co.”