I feel your pain, Miranda Priestly. Miranda is the perfectionist editor-in-chief of Runway, a top fashion magazine in The Devil Wears Prada. One morning she sweeps into her New York City office and finds Andy Sachs waiting for her. A college graduate, Andy is applying for a job as Miranda’s second assistant. One look at this naïve, plainly dressed young lady tells Miranda she has no fashion sense. But that’s not all. In front of this editing icon, Andy admits she has never read Runway.
Amazing how life imitates art. As an editor at the Bible Advocate magazine and Now What? e-zine, I’ve dealt with many Andys—not job applicants but freelance writers. Without even peeking at our pages, they trot out their manuscripts and watch them crash in the rejection pile.
Often the problem isn’t poor writing but a poor match. These writers have no clue who we are and what we publish.
Take the man who submitted reprints of his published columns. He fanned out his credentials like a deck of cards, then admitted he hadn’t seen our magazine before submitting. Another writer pitched a piece on the conflicts a librarian faces, like annoying customers, e-readers and aching feet.
Seriously? If you thumb through our magazine for sixty seconds, you’ll see nothing related to librarians and no columns written by outside authors.
The work of these freelancers sat in my inbox for two months when they could have been making money in suitable markets.
Editorial guidelines urge writers to read the magazine before submitting, but many of them don’t—or don’t know what to look for.
Analyzing a magazine isn’t hard to do, but it does take time and know-how.
Though there are a number of areas to study, these five can get you started:
In An Introduction to Christian Writing, Ethel Herr wrote: “Writing without an audience is therapy. Writing that reaches an audience is communication.”
Though not all writers have the desire to publish, some of us feel led to share the words God gives us to write.
Communicators who choose traditional publishing quickly discover that rejection is an inevitable and invaluable part of our writing journey. Every no, not yet, and not here stings. But receiving those answers can become easier and even exciting, as the Lord adjusts our definition of a successful communicator and helps us recognize the following rewards of rejection:
I often get feedback from new writers who lament the long response time (or no response at all) to their requested queries/proposals/fulls to agents and editors. I empathize with them, but I also try to help them understand the daily story of an industry professional’s life.
I have yet to sit on the other side of the desk as an acquisitions editor, nor have I been an agent, but I have many editor and agent friends. I’ve come to empathize with both sides of the story—for those submitting and those receiving.
Guaranteeing Success at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers
God’s people from around the world, including my writing and prayer partner from Chile, are preparing for the upcoming Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Some are breathing sighs of relief because they made the deadline for pre-submissions. Others are talking themselves off the ledge because they missed the deadline.
A few are practicing pitches.
Others are smiling, nodding, and excusing themselves for an urgent call. “Okay, Google, what is a pitch?”
Friends who met online are excited about seeing each other face-to-face for the first time. Old friends are looking forward to reunions. And a few first timers are nervous, because they won’t know one single person when they step onto that beautiful campus.
Quiet ones will feel invisible or like they don’t belong, while gaggles of writers feel at home amongst their tribe.
How A Letter to a Sailor Ignited a Lifelong Friendship and a New Book
While serving in the Navy, aboard an aircraft carrrier in the Persian Gulf, Michael Russo received a letter from a stranger. That letter was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and the catalyst for his debut novel, Everlene’s Sky.
I interviewed Michael about his friendship with Everlene and the book he just launched, a novelization of her life story.
Here are some of the questions I posed to Michael:
Tell me about the first time Everlene made contact with you.
What propelled you to write back to her?
How did her correspondence impact you.
At what point did you start thinking, “Hey, this would make a great book”?
And when did you start writing it?
Prior to this, had you written for publication?
Describe your writing process.
How involved was Everlene in the process?
The title, Everlene’s Sky, comes from a quote from Everlene. Can you share that quote and why you used it for your book title?
Describe your publishing process.
How has the book been received so far?
What are you doing to help promote Everlene’s Sky?
What would you say to someone who’s in that place where you were–they have an interesting book idea and are at the beginning of the writing and publishing process. What have you learned that you can pass along?
Be sure to watch the 700 Club segment about Everlene Brewer and her unique ministry to U.S. service men and women.
Have you had an encounter with a stranger that became a subject of your writing? Tell us about it.
Elizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Connect with Elizabeth on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She loves to connect with other writers!