I’m writing this before Christmas but it will post after the holiday . I haven’t gone to my first Christmas party yet, but by the time you see this I’ll have attended several. By the time you read this I will also have given all of my gifts, but as I write I still have several left to buy. That’s okay though, because I have a list. I know exactly what I’m getting for each person – I just need to buy it. I don’t leave my gift-buying to chance. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, I have a plan.
You should approach editing the same way. You don’t want to start editing and hope you end up with something publishable. It’s not enough to correct your punctuation and grammar. Several factors contribute to the sale-ability of your manuscript, so go into editing with a plan and you’ll increase your chances of seeing your work in print. Here are a few things to consider before you start editing.
- Word Count. If you want to publish a contemporary romance but it’s 120,000 words long, you might have a problem. Likewise, if your article is only 500 words but your target magazines have a 1,000 minimum, you’ll need to keep writing.
- Audience. The age and education of your audience matters – you’ll want to tone down or amp up your vocabulary accordingly. Periodicals can be written anywhere from 6th grade to high school reading levels. A trade magazine, however, will require more specific and technical explanations. Make sure you know what your publisher requires.
- Purpose. If you’re covering the news, your opinion shouldn’t show up anywhere in the article. An op ed piece or blog post, however, can be written more like a personal essay. You don’t want to be too stiff or personal, depending on the publication.
- Format. Blog posts work best when they include a list, bullet points, and white space. Magazines and book publishers will require more traditional formatting (double spaced, first line indent, etc.). Where will your manuscript appear?
- Publishing Guidelines. Every publisher has its own requirements, so it’s important to do your research. You don’t want to submit a manuscript in Courier font if that publisher only accepts documents in Times New Roman. It may seem insignificant to you, but not following the publisher’s guidelines is the easiest and fastest way to get your rejection.
Go into editing with a plan and you’ll save yourself hours of re-editing later. Understand the publishing guidelines of your target publisher, and you’ll increase your chances of getting noticed by the publisher.
Good luck, and have a great New Year!