1. Editors are NOT CYBORGS. I know this is a shocker, but it turns out that editors are human like the rest of us. They laugh, smile, sleep, eat, and enjoy emails that begin with their real name instead of “Dear Editor.” They are regular people, who just happen to work in publishing.
However, today’s market requires editors to have cyborg-like qualities. In addition to ridiculous amounts of reading and editing, editors must also function as publicists, social media experts, business managers, market analysts, and negotiators. Writers who respect the editor’s time and humanity (in an industry that doesn’t) will stand out.
2. Publishers will probably GOOGLE YOUR NAME (if they like your writing). Privacy is dead. The sooner we as writers accept this, the more quickly we can move on to building a smart and effective online presence.
In her blog post A Writer’s Audience: How to Market with Social Media, one of my fellow interns Alicia Tonne says it this way: “You know what I do after I’ve read about three to five chapters of a new submission? I Google the author. I look for anything I can find– and can I even find them?” Publishers want writers who will engage readers online, who will deliberately use social media to find readers. We have no qualms with cyber-stalking a good writer, to see if they are also good online.
3. SOLID WRITING EXCITES US. Here’s the situation. According to Jeff Gerke in his book The First 50 Pages, “The person looking at your first fifty pages is stressed, unsure about her own job security, overworked, burdened with the need to read proposals but allocated no time to do so, and trying to find novels that are both wonderfully written and financially viable… But she still loves a great story and still values the work of a skilled wordsmith.”
It’s a tough industry, but at heart, editors and publishers really do enjoy the written word. When we find something that grabs us, our pulse goes up and we feel a bit giddy. We start tweeting about it (without identifying anyone, of course). We send each other chat messages about that particular submission. We tell each other to plan extra time for that one. Sometimes we even stay up late, because we can’t stop reading. I’m not sure if that’s how it works in the old-school New York publishing houses, but I’m fortunate to work with a fresh new publisher that still gets excited when a writer exhibits sharp prose and an engaging plot. Even better if the Google search shows they are active online.
At the end of the day, editors just want to be swept away by a great story.
(This is the second post in a six-part series. Stay tuned…)