5 Steps to Capture and Keep the Editor's Interest

Editors are busy, busy, busy people. 

So you'll want to capture their interest quickly. 

But how do you do that? 

The 5 steps listed below may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how often writers do not follow these steps.

1. Analyze the magazine or publisher before you submit. An article about training your dog wouldn't be of much interest to Cat Fancy, unless it was about training your dog to get along with your cat. Know the topics the magazine covers, their tone and slant, article length, style, and their target audience. For a more in depth explanation, read "How to analyze a magazine." 

If you are submitting a manuscript to a publisher, study their catalog (sometimes available online) or the titles listed on their website, or visit the local bookstore and study the publishers who publish your genre.

2. Write a proper query letter. Simply writing “Here is my submission” is a definite no-no. And believe me I have received just such emails.
  • Address it to a specific editor
  • First sentence should hook the editor just like the first sentence of your article or story should hook the reader
  • Second paragraph a bit more about the article and why you are the one who should write it
  • Third paragraph is your publication credits, if you don’t have any don’t mention it

For more, read “Do You Query Properly?” Additionally, there are whole books written about writing queries. Check your local library.

3. Study the writers/submission guidelines and follow them to the letter. An industry standard is
  • Name, address, and contact info to include your email and web address if you have a website
  • Times New Roman
  • 11-12 pt. font
  • double spaced
  • 1 inch margins all around
  • word count of article

A serif font (like Times New Roman) is easier to read than a san serif font (like Arial).  Remember, editors read manuscript after manuscript and their eyes grow weary. These guidelines are designed to make reading and editing easier for the editor.

Many magazines state how a submission is to be made, the specifics of their columns, what research is required, what they do not accept, and much, much more. So read them thoroughly.

Many publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, but require manuscripts to be submitted by a literary agent or agency. 

So save yourself time and heartache by submitting correctly and to place that want your topic/genre. 

4. Write a proper book proposal if you are submitting a book manuscript.
What publishers want in the proposal varies widely. Most common items are a
  • cover letter written much like a query letter
  • synopsis of story
  • the target audience for your book
  • market overview or competition
  • marketing plan
  • bio of author
  • chapter outline (for nonfiction primarily)
  • sample chapters

Writing a book proposal can be more difficult than writing the book.

5. Before submitting, review your article. Look for
  • correct spelling (do not rely on spell check)
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • word count within the specified guidelines
  • written in the tone, slant, and style of the magazine you’re submitting to

Know your craft. Do not submit the first draft you write thinking an editor will fix it. Write the best article (or book) you can and submit that. 

These 5 steps don't guarantee your article idea or manuscript will be accepted, but they most certainly increase your chances of the editor asking for the full manuscript.

Debra L. Butterfield is a freelance editor as well as the nonfiction editor for CrossRiver Media Group. Her most recent book, Carried by Grace: A Guide for Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, releases in late 2014. She is a contributor to Miracles and Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories of Survival, 2014 Penned from the Heart, and The Benefit Package. Her editorial credits include the award-winning teen devotional This I Know. Visit her blog at DebraLButterfield.com

Why Writers Must Also Be Speakers

Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking. Most women are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Many within the writing community agree, saying, “I’m a writer, not a speaker.” 

If you feel this way, I have good news and bad news. First the bad news: It’s almost impossible to become a successful writer without also becoming a successful speaker. Now the good news: You can become a successful speaker. 

Here are 10 reasons why writers must also be speakers: 

1. The agent interview. Before you can sell your work to a publisher, you must sell it to an agent. And you’re not just selling your book, you’re selling yourself—your personality, passion, and ability to promote your work. You must convince your agent before he’ll ever speak to a publisher on your behalf. 

2. The infamous elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 60-90 second description of your book. You should be able to give this confidently and articulately to an editor, agent, or potential reader in an elevator, social setting, or at dinner. 

3. Writing will open up other opportunities to share your message. When readers connect with you through your writing, you begin a relationship of sorts. A natural outcome is that they want to interact with you in person. Many of my speaking invitations come because of something I’ve written. If we limit ourselves to the written word, we limit our ability to influence. 

4. After you speak, your audience will be more interested in your written message. Quoting from your book during your presentation almost always increases book sales. When I speak, I direct people to my book and blog. When I write, I direct people to my speaking ministry presentations. Both are ways to expand my ministry and influence. 

5. Because Christians should always be ready to share their faith. This is a needy world, and we have the answers to life’s questions. First Peter 3:15 reminds us, “Be ready always to give a reason for the hope that lies within you with gentleness and respect.” 

6. To be ready for radio and TV interviews. After establishing yourself as an expert in your field, media outlets will invite you to speak. Knowing how to think on your feet, communicate succinctly and powerfully, and conduct yourself on camera ensures that you present yourself and your message well. 

7. To be able to add Vlogs and book promos to your blog. One of the latest additions to the blogging world is the video blog (Vlog). It’s a short video, usually filmed using a computer program such as Windows Live Media Player. Vlogs can further connect you with your audience. Most of my blog posts are written, but occasionally I film a message when I feel especially passionate about something. Sharing my thoughts orally allows me to connect with some who prefer audio or visual communication. “I love your Vlogs,” one subscriber wrote. “I prefer to watch and listen rather than read.” You can also add a video to promote your books. 

8. Speaking can be a source of income to help support your writing. After you’ve written a book, you will become an expert in other people’s eyes, leading them to invite you to speak at their meetings, church and civic events, and book clubs. This will help promote your book and may support your writing with a speaker’s fee. 

9. To gain confidence and poise. Speaker training gives you the skills and confidence to interact with large groups, small groups, and individuals, increasing the effectiveness of your ministry. 

10. Because speaking makes you a better writer, and writing makes you a better speaker. The same skills that go into crafting an orderly, easy to follow, entertaining, or informational speech are the skills and techniques that make for an orderly, easy-to-follow, entertaining, or informational article, devotion, or book. Many of my best speaking presentations have their roots in a blog post or article, and vice versa. 

 After reading my 10 reasons, I hope you’re convinced why it’s not enough to be just a writer. To be a successful writer, you must also be a successful speaker. 

These are the members of PCWN who presented the workshop "Why Writers Must Be Speakers" at the recent Writers Advance! Boot Camp Conference. (L-R Lori Hatcher, Deborah Bateman, Sharon Leaf, Linnette Mullin, Jean Wilund, and Janey Goude)

Lori will be sharing a message called "Worry Wart or Warrior Woman?" at Riverbend Community Church on Saturday, May 3 from 12-2 p.m. This luncheon is open to women of the community, and you are warmly welcome to attend. To reserve your spot, contact Jean Wilund at (803)422-1410.

Lori Hatcher is a Christian Communicators Graduate, Toastmasters International member, and the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine. She speaks nationally and internationally on topics that resonate with women, seeking to empower and equip them to live in the fullness of their relationship with Christ. She’s the author of two devotional books, Joy in the Journey, for homeschooling moms, and Hungry for God … Starving for Time, for busy women. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time.