Hi folks, it seems an age since I was last here. The blog tends to take a backseat when other writing pursuits begin to bear fruit no? I’ve been writing up a storm – not a novel unfortunately, though hopefully that too shall happen some day – mostly lifestyle articles for online and print publications. When I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Law at King’s College, University of London 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed if someone told me I’d be a lifestyle journalist 10 years on. But, through a series of fortuitous circumstances , I am indeed a journalist now, despite (or maybe because of) my law degree and lack of proper journalistic or even writing training!
However, the unpreparedness for this career I find myself thrust into, is most keenly felt in one aspect only – my dealings with my Editors. Ah. The age-old battle – Editors vs. Writers. Writers vs. Editors.
In the last 5 months, I have gone from contributing freelance articles to 1 online publication regularly and 1 print publication occasionally, to regularly contributing to 7 completely different and unrelated platforms – some with significant national and international readership. It’s safe to say, I have encountered all kinds of Editors in the process! So, in an attempt to fill some non-sponsored content on my blog, and perhaps a glimmer of humour, here are the types of Editors (male and female, old and young) that I’ve come across so far:
- THE KIND THAT DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY ‘NO’
For Associate Editors of fledgling newspapers or news websites, an important task is to source good quality written content that is appropriate for use on their platform. If they come across writers who consistently offer well-written articles that don’t require much or any editing, nor any need for constructive criticism , it is in their best interests to ensure the happiness of such writers. How do they do this? Simply by ignoring requests for topics they don’t want, because saying ‘no’ might offend the writer, and discourage them from sending other work.
I cannot explain how frustrating this is. Yes, it sounds idyllic – “oh, he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings!”. Please. I’m doing a job and I’d like some professionalism from the other party too. When I pitch idea after idea, and don’t hear back on 2 out of 5 of them, despite constant pestering for a response, I get so frustrated!! Even worse perhaps, is when the Editor says he’ll take the article and then refuses to publish it for weeks on weeks!
If you don’t like the work, or you feel it doesn’t fit right with your publication, just let the writer know. We’re strong enough to take the rejection and share it instead with a platform where it is needed.
2. THE KIND THAT SAY ‘NO’ TO EVERYTHING
Ok now I’ve complained about the guy who never says no. Let me come to the one who says ‘no’ arbitrarily! I kid you not – one kind of topic will be accepted one week and a slight variant of it refused the next, without explanation. The lack of an explanation is a big problem because there’s no way for us to know what works and what doesn’t. Writers have just got to keep trying their luck in the hope that if we catch the Editor on a day he woke up on the right side of the bed, he’ll pick the idea!
3. THE KIND THAT CHANGE YOUR WRITING JUST FOR THE SAKE OF HAVING ‘EDITED’
I’ll admit I’ve been quite fortunate so far in that most newspapers don’t feel the need to actually ‘edit’ my work – with the exception of a few factual details or sprucing up sentences here or there. However, a couple of overzealous Editors feel they need to justify their job by editing just for the sake of editing. Entire sentences written by me, made to fit the context, are cut out and paragraphs that seem out of place, added in their place. Sometimes, they even change direct quotes of people I’ve interviewed, literally putting words in their mouth! So incredibly frustrating.
4. THE KIND WHO DON’T EVEN EDIT THEIR OWN ERRORS
On the opposite end of the spectrum is this guy – who wrongly prints or publishes a fact or uses an incorrect / inappropriate photo to accompany the article. When alerted to the need for change, this breed of Editor pretends to be on sick leave so they don’t have to deal with it! How long does sick leave usually go on for? Till the next pre-written, good-quality article arrives from the writer of course!
5. THE KIND THAT ARE JUST TOO ANNOYING FOR WORDS
All Editors mentioned above are frustrating to deal with but once you know them, it becomes easy to manoeuver around their expectations and concerns. But there is still one kind left, who is arguably the worst of the lot. In plain and simple language – he/she is a jerk. Imagine the scenario – an article price is agreed upon at the time of commissioning and the article is duly sent in after hours of in-depth research and numerous interviews, and when pay day arrives, you receive only half the agreed amount, for some arbitrary and uncalled for reason. It takes a certain kind of ruthlessness to be this category of Editor. But I guess that’s where my law degree comes handy – I know how to negotiate so I get every penny due to me in the end 😉
I hope you enjoyed this light-hearted read. Do share your experiences with Editors in the comments below and also let me know if you could identify with any of the five types I have mentioned above. And if you’re an Editor reading this – remember you were a writer once too!
*This is not a sponsored post.
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