5 Ways to Drive an Editor Crazy

13761150586648bAs an aspiring writer, I thought editors had horns on their head and pitchforks perched beside their desks. After all, they sent me form “no thanks” letters after I’d slaved over an obviously brilliant manuscript. They ignored my letters and phone calls, and seemed to take joy in waiting months before replying to my oh-so-urgent emails.

Now, as both a seasoned writer and an editor for a large faith-based website, I’ve learned that editors are people, too. We love finding new voices to publish, and we try to be gentle when doling out rejections. Sure, we have our quirks, and we make mistakes. But mostly, we’re word-loving, gentle souls who find joy in a well-placed modifier.

When provoked, however, we can lose our literary minds. Several habits don’t just rub us the wrong way—they make us want to run down the street while still in our bathrobes, shouting Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” until we puke.

Here’s how you can speed that process along:

1) Treat Guidelines as Optional.

      Don’t bother reading writing guidelines; don’t even visit websites or read back issues of magazines. Send a totally inappropriate submission. In your cover letter, tell the editor that while you’ve never taken the time to familiarize yourself with their publication, you’re sure that your work is perfect for them. file3781288474089

       2) Respond viciously to rejection letters.

      When you receive a letter stating that “your submission doesn’t meet our current needs,” fire off a hateful email, chastising the editor for his lack of taste. Even better: use bad language and post your vitriolic thoughts all over social media. (This habit works well if you never want to see your work in print. Those bridges are so pretty when they burn!)

      3) Never turn in an assignment by the deadline.

Deadlines aren’t set in stone; therefore, ask for repeated extensions, paying no attention to the panicked tone of your editor’s responses. Don’t worry that you are one of several dozen moving parts in the publishing of a website, magazine or compilation book. Take all the time you want—the world does, in fact, revolve around you.

       4) Take up all your editor’s time.

Ask repeated questions about the contract or terms of your publishing agreement. Don’t get an agent or other professionals to weigh in on your questions. Don’t network with other writers so that you can learn from their experiences. Pester the editor with texts (preferably to her personal cell phone, if you can dig up the number) about when your piece will be printed, how many readers you’ll get, etc.

And finally:

5) Refuse to accept changes in your manuscript.

Since you have received your talent from God, treat every word as His direct quote. Don’t let an editor make changes to your beautiful masterpiece. Fight over each letter and punctuation mark. Don’t choose your battles. Take offense at questions. Die on every single hill.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a nasty email to delete…and I need to look up the lyrics to a certain parody song.

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19 thoughts on “5 Ways to Drive an Editor Crazy

  1. They sound like common sense things to me. 🙂 I’m pretty tolerant, but if a friend did the every day life equivalent of these things they would promptly be downgraded to an acquaintance.
    You have my sympathy. :/

    • Thank you. It’s actually a really fun job, and most people are GREAT. 🙂 Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Sounds like you have very good boundaries. LOL!

      • These boundaries have taken a lot of time to be set. They’re also why I no longer have texting, and a good portion of the day the ringer on the cell phone is turned off. Too many people assume that just because you work from home that you have tons of time to kill. Nope.

        I’m glad you like your job. Too many of us humans settle for work we can do rather than work we enjoy doing.

        I look forward to reading more of your articles. 🙂

  2. As an Acquisition Editor for an indie publishing company, I can’t begin to tell you how hard I laughed at this post… while nodding and crying a little. It’s spot on. There are a bunch of people I’d love to be able to direct this post to, but I’m sure that would only throw fuel on the fire.

    So instead, I offer my shoulder for you to cry on. We editors need to stick together!

  3. It’s called Professionalism and RESPECT. While writing is our passion, our hobby, and what we do for fun, because we ENJOY it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a business.

  4. This is a great list. I especially like #3. I’m not an editor, but I have to think that they can forgive almost anything as long as the manuscript is in on time!

    As a writer, there is nothing like working with a really good editor. I recently had the pleasure of working with a terrific woman who not only made sensitive edits to issues I would not have caught, she also used “track changes” and put little comments in the margins explaining why she was making each change. I learned so much from those little margin comments.

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