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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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How to Lose an Editor in Ten Ways

Anyone can sabotage their writing career. It takes less skill to fail as a freelance children’s writer than it does to succeed. I’ve interviewed four editors from popular Christian children’s magazines who reveal details on what to do to increase your chances of staying out of print. In this four-part series, you will learn 10 ways to lose an editor. (Note: I hope you won’t ever heed my advice.)

Here are the topics we will cover starting next Monday:

Way 1: Skip This Step

What better way to lose an editor than to write 3,000 words of middle-grade fiction for a publication that requests 150-200 words for preschoolers? In Part 1, you will learn how to have your work rejected immediately. Trust me. You can build your rejection portfolio quickly by simply skipping this first step.

Ways 2-3: Mess Up Your Characters

Here, we will reveal the secret on how to lose an editor through your characters. There are some common mistakes you can implement to make sure your reader does not relate to anyone in your story.

Ways 4-7: Scramble Your Content

There are many ways to lose an editor with content. We will cover a few of the most common in these four steps that our editors have received.

Ways 8-10: Believe You Are Perfect

Love your writing? Hate to have your work critiqued or edited? These last three steps will give insight on what you should avoid prior to submitting your work to ensure a rejection.

Sarcasm aside, my real goal is to help you succeed. What better way than to hear straight from the experts? So, stay tuned for “Way 1: Skip This Step.” You’re not going to want to skip it!

 

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.