We were on a road trip, having shut down production for a very rare moment. Typically, we work close to 14 hours a day and through the weekend. It reminds me of my days in the Navy when I was an attack pilot and managed sailors in all different kinds of offices and shops, in addition to being shot off the pointy end. A 14-hour day on the aircraft carrier was a short day. As we waited for our meal to come from the kitchen, we talked shop, as we often do.
“I really wish some of the authors querying us would come into the Twenty-first Century and use computers,” I said to Ardis. We come across some great stories, but some of the writers submit their proposals on notebook paper, napkins, and other inappropriate media. “I should write about it in the blog to get the word out.”
At that moment, she stated the obvious.
“Sweetie, people reading a blog probably are in the Twenty-first Century.” Man, I hate it when she is right, but I had my retort ready.
“What do you want me to do? Yell, “Stop the Presses!” and put it in the newspaper? Nobody reads newspapers anymore.”
Nevertheless, the writers still want to write; and they are still looking for publishers.
When I worked as a full time writer and later as a freelancer, I wondered about publishers and editors. I questioned how they got to be the way they are. Since becoming one, I am discovering the answers.
What most writers fail to understand about editors and publishers is that they work like electricity. And no, I don’t mean as in the speed of light. They work like electricity by taking the path of least resistance. Think about it – Physics 101 applied to a business situation.
If it takes two weeks to publish Project A and it takes seven weeks for Project B, which project do you think the editor will run? Which do you believe the editors will accept and which reject? What might be the difference between projects A and B?
Can you say, “Following the submission guidelines?”
Writers are a funny lot; they always want to do things their way. Editors are funny, too; they also want to do things, well, their way. That is why they go to the trouble of publishing submission guidelines. It makes their jobs easier, it allows them to accomplish more, and they can work like electricity – following the path of least resistance to the completion of their tasks.
The bottom line is this – if you want to be successful as a writer, you need to do things the company way. They went to a lot of trouble to create their department in a particular style to allow projects to flow seamlessly from the query letter to final publication.
If you follow their guidelines, you will help them in their jobs. You will also have a much higher chance of having your project accepted, leading of course, to a successful career as a writer.
As Ardis so well pointed out, people reading this on a blog are already in the Twenty-first Century. However, I am sure you know some of those other people in your writing circles. If you care for them, help them out.
Print this article, take them a copy, and talk them into buying a computer.
© 2010 J. Clark