An Editor’s Life

Posted on October 13, 2012. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , , |

I asked my friend, Joanne Lozar Glenn, a working editor, to share some secrets of her world with mine. Here’s a glimpse into an editor’s life.

What’s Going On When Your Writing Lands in the Editor’s Inbox

Someone new to publishing recently asked me if she should contact the journal editor who still hadn’t let her know whether or not her article would be published. I felt her angst. I’m a writer, too, and it’s hard when you hope, hope, hope, that this one will make it into print.

But I’m also an editor, so I told her no. Don’t keep hounding. Here’s why:

Editors are swamped with submissions

(1)   from authors  who haven’t read the publication’s guidelines and so must receive emails, written by said editor, explaining why their article isn’t right for the journal (all of which takes unbelievable amounts of time);

(2)   from authors  whose manuscripts need to be reviewed by an editorial board or by other members in the organization, especially if their content touches on sensitive issues;

(3)   from authors  who submit improperly formatted manuscripts, which adds to the time needed to edit a simple piece;

(4)   from authors who mention products or vendors even though the editorial policies strictly prohibit this crossover between advertising and editorial, which means the editor undertakes even more correspondence to explain the policy.

Editors also are busy

(1)   having conference calls  focused on explaining the ethical separation between advertising and editorial because some companies think it would be nice for the publication’s writers to mention their products, because, you know, they’ve spent so much on ads;

(2)   editing, and sending edited manuscripts back and forth to authors for approvals;

(3)   chasing copyrights, bios, and sometimes photos from authors submitting manuscripts;

(4)   fitting the submissions they have into the allowable page counts and signatures or online template constraints;

(5)   meeting with editorial boards to determine the next year’s editorial calendar;

(6)   launching new features or surveying readers so they can keep the publication lively and interesting;

(7)   dreaming up new themes and approaches that will allow their publication to stand out from the competition;

(8)   getting all the documentation together to enter (or judge) editorial awards contests;

(9)   dealing with all the personalities who have input regarding the production process (publishers, designers, assistants, advertisers, and of course, prospective authors);

(10) finding an article to fill a hole pre-production when an author who promised to submit an article or return an article with his/her revision bails, or during production when an article is pulled for some reason—it’s suddenly out of date, or  Powers That BE decide it’s too sensitive at the present time.

Some of them also have other things in their lives like having to commute to work in horrible traffic, family responsibilities, graduate school, and their own writing projects.

They’re very busy. So, be kind and understand what they’re up against, and make their job easy. They’ll love you for it and if your work is good and you continue to make their job easy, they’ll eventually solicit your writing or recommend you to other editors, which increases your publication chops.

And remember, always thank them for including your piece in their publication and especially if they made improvements that make you look good. That is the best thing an editor hears all day and really sweetens the hours they spend editing and managing everything else that goes with it.

I’m off to thank an editor right now, in fact, for her inclusion of my piece in her journal, something I should have done weeks ago…but I was too busy editing!

Joanne Lozar Glenn is a freelance writer, editor, and educator who also leads an annual writing retreat at the beach each Spring. Interested in taking a class or attending the retreat? You can reach her at or join her mailing list on her website.

She also has an awesome class coming up. “Your Manuscript: The Publishing Process”
Sat., Nov. 3, 10 am – 2 pm
Concise guidance for authors in readying the manuscript, approaching agents or publishers, developing query letters, marketing, choosing a publication process, and more. Bring lunch.

Register online here or by calling 703-658-1201.


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2 Responses to “An Editor’s Life”

RSS Feed for Jessica Piscitelli – Writer Comments RSS Feed

What an excellent post! These are all things I will keep in mind, as a hopeful writer and editor myself. Thank you!

Kate, glad you liked the post. Best of luck on pursuing a career in writing and editing…it can be very satisfying!

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