What Not to Say to an Editor

Yesterday I told you about The Christian Writer’s Marker Guide.  I mentioned that there were some great short essays offering tips to new writers. The one entitled “What Not to Say to an Editor” caught my eye. Here’s part of what it says (the author is Peggy Sue Wells):

Do Your Homework

Publishers market to targeted readers. While most writers know not to send a children’s book manuscript to a publisher that doesn’t produce projects for young people, there are other areas to steer clear of.

‘I cringe whenever I see ‘there’s nothing else like it on the market.’ says Nick Harrison, Harvest House editor. ‘First, if there’s truly nothing else like it, there’s probably a reason. Second, there usually is something else out there like it, and the author is showing his or her ignorance by not being aware of the competition.’

Watch What You Say

Ann Parrish, an editor at Bethany House Publishers, loses interest when a writer claims,’ The Lord told me your company is the one to publish my book.’

Other statements that do not make best friends and influence editors:

‘It’s an instant bestseller.’

‘This is the next Left Behind series.’

‘This is the Christian Harry Potter (or Twilight).’

‘My mom (spouse, critique group, parrot) loves this, so I know you will too.’

Integrity is Critical

Don’t put words in an endorser’s mouth. ‘My pet peeve is when someone writes, ‘Doc Hensley thought it was wonderful,’ says Dennis E. Hensley, director of the Professional Writing Department at Taylor University. ‘In fact, I said it had potential but needed a lot of copyediting and revision.’

Errors like these flag you as an amateur. Editors and publishers are drawn to writers who present their ideas–and themselves–professionally.” (184)

But the book contains positive advice as well. Peggy also has an article entitled “Formatting–and More–for Success.” I enjoyed these tips:

“Omit needless words like:

Very. It was very large. How large? The size of a South Carolina palmetto bug? As big as a beluga whale? Be specific.

Just. Just is just not needed.

Really. It was really sweet. How sweet? Like southern tea? Like sugared breakfast cereal that makes your teeth hurt just looking at the box? Describe how sweet, or even better, show it through the character’s reaction.

Some. Some children went to the beach. How many? The grandmother’s seven grandchildren? A first grade class?

All. They all arrived at the battle. Remove all and the sentence reads better.

Literally. Anne’s hair was literally green. It was either green or it wasn’t. Literally is literally not needed.”  (179)


Christian Writer's Guide



About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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