Editors Answer: What Editing Issues Fast Track Writing Submissions To The Reject Pile?

by Susan Maccarelli Jan 16, 2017, 2 Comments

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What Editing Issues Fast Track You to the Reject Pile

No one likes to get a writing rejection from an editor. Whether you move on and forget the experience in five minutes or dwell on it for 5 weeks, it would be nice to know WHY an editor decided not to use your article.

When we asked editors what makes them send a writing submission straight to the reject pile without passing GO, they shared these reasons:

Not following directions

Not everyone takes the time to read through editorial guidelines before submitting work. Freelance Editor Jennifer Oradat of jenniferoradat.com, thinks “There’s nothing more obnoxious than a writer who clearly didn’t read the submission guidelines. Guidelines typically discuss not just what to submit, but how.” She can often tell if a writer has glossed over or skipped the submission guidelines just by reading their cover letter.

Managing Editor Leah Singer of Red Tricycle's Spoke Contributor Network encourages writers to “Spend a few minutes to check the punctuation and editorial style of the publication before submitting a piece for consideration.” Leah gets regular submissions that don’t abide by her publication’s rule on spacing after a period, and reminds writers “Even if you are not a fan of two spaces after a period, if it's the publication's style, do it THEIR way!”

Someone else’s voice

Even though an editor may not know you well enough to pick your voice from a lineup, most can easily tell if your writing sounds inauthentic. Former Editor at elephantjournal.com, Renée Picard begs writers to “Skip the clichés, please.” She notes “A few structural or grammatical errors are fine, but if it’s not coming from you, it’s not your original voice and idea, it won’t be considered.”

BLUNTmoms.com Editor-In-Chief, Magnolia Ripkin, can smell a fake writing persona from a mile away. She quickly figures out when "a submission is full of 40-dollar words not in the natural vocabulary of the writer.” While she appreciates an impressive vocabulary as much as the next editor, she points out that using a writing voice unlike your own is “like your first time on high heels, everybody can see the awkward.”

Carelessness

Careless writing comes in many flavors. Managing Editor T.T. Robinson of Spousebuzz.com warns, “If you spell the publication’s name wrong, it’s an easy no.” Editor Alison Lee of MultiplesIlluminated.com adds grammatical and syntax errors, misuse of words and spelling errors to the list of careless writing examples, noting that “Good writers spend as much time, if not more, on editing their essay. Great stories get lost in poor writing.”

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Verbosity

Business Editor Kallen Diggs of GoodMenProject.com believes lack of succinctness is a big problem for many writers. Kallen observes “Some writers take a paragraph to say something that can be articulated in one sentence.” Since first impressions are vital, Kallen goes on to say if he sees this problem he will encourage the writer to take a writing class before welcoming their submissions again.

Ignoring your editor

It should go without saying that if your editor gives you direction, you should make the requested edits or at least discuss further with them. Associate Editor with Contently.com, Dillon Baker thinks “The mistake most likely to make sure your pitches won't be accepted in the future is straight-up ignoring edits. Ignoring a question or suggestion is just rude, and can be extremely confusing for the editor. If you disagree with something, fight back--any good editor can take it as good as they can give it, and it demonstrates that you're committed to making the best article possible.”

Dismissing the editorial calendar

Many publications live and die by the editorial calendar, so no matter how great the piece is, if it doesn’t jibe with calendar themes, it won’t be published. If a writer doesn’t send a piece with enough lead time, editors may have to reject it because the editorial window has passed. Red Tricycle Editor, Leah Singer urges writers to ‘Be mindful of timing. Most editors are completing timely stories well before the day of an event or holiday. For example, if you have a great story about how kids can get involved in Giving Tuesday, don't send the pitch on Giving Tuesday. The story may be terrific, but by then it's too late and won't be timely to promote on social media either.”

If you were reminded of a recent faux pas, not to worry! There are more publications in the sea and always somewhere else to submit your writing and practice your editing etiquette.

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About the Author:

Susan Maccarelli runs the show at BeyondYourBlog.com, a website that helps writers get published beyond their personal blogs by sharing interviews with editors, directories of where to submit writing, inspiration, and tips. Check out her self-paced course Submission Savvy or contact her at susan (at) beyondyourblog (dot com).

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