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Editors are Human Too!

May 17th, 2013

Writers both new and experienced do like to have a little moan about editors. They grumble about editors not acknowledging copy, or for not giving a reason for rejecting the writer’s ideas. Writers will complain that it only takes a minute to reply to an email, and that constructive criticism would benefit everyone.

Years ago I used to write for an editor, who, if she wasn’t interested in an idea would simply reply – not for us, thanks. Other writers I know were irritated by this, feeling that it was too blunt, but I always appreciated the fact that the editor took time to reply.

We tend to think of editors as a different race, far removed, and thinking differently from us. A few months back I decided to take the plunge and phone a few editors I had sent outlines to. Out of the four telephone calls three resulted in commissions.

Relaying my success to some fellow journalists most of them spoke of how they never have the nerve to call editors. One however, an editor herself, said how she likes receiving phone calls from writers pitching ideas.

The next day I phoned another editor, one who I had never spoke to before. He was rude to me on the phone and laughed at me for calling. I remembered why I only occasionally picked up the phone.

My point is that no two editors are the same. There isn’t a standard editor’s personality, although undoubtedly it takes a certain type of person who can rise to the challenge of multitasking and all the other skills required of an editor.

But also we need to remember that they are, just like us writers, only human. Some are friendly, some are grumpy. Some will acknowledge receiving your article, some make a point of never doing that as they feel it could be viewed as them saying all is okay with the article. Many simply don’t have the time or forget to reply.

Most do not like receiving too many phone calls, although some appreciate having a chat with their writers. Timing is important and calling during press week should be avoided. Like the rest of us they are busy and often under pressure.

Remembering all this will help you build up relationships. It will mean they look more favourably on your ideas, and may hopefully at some point start coming to you with work.

Jackie Cosh is a freelance writer, ex Writers Bureau student and current Writers Bureau tutor.


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