10 top tips for authors
By Margaret Watson
1) Make sure there are enough spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in your query letters. About one a line at least. A couple of crossings out would add a touch of authenticity – Charles Dickens did it, and a certain Mr Shakespeare or is that Shakspar
2) Editors hate good original work, otherwise why do they reject so much. Ensure that yours is neither good nor original by writing a bad parody. If you are writing for a magazine look at last months issue and write an article on a featured subject. If it worked well last month it will be twice as good next month – right?
3) Don’t bother about author’s guidelines, formatting and word counts. They are only for beginners and anyway they aren’t important now that we have word processors.
4) Address your query letter to ‘To whom it may concern.’ rather than using the editor’s name. Everyone knows how busy editors are and you will ensure that at least it ends up on someone’s desk. Also it shows that you are too busy to spare time looking up the editors name and probably haven’t had time to read the magazine.
5) Call frequently to see what progress your submission is making. About once a day is about right, but the more often the better. They will publish just to shut you up. On the other hand don’t return telephone calls or e.mails or only after a week or so. Keep them on their toes.
6) Do not cite references. Looking things up is someone’s job and you don’t want them to be redundant. Anyway quoting proper references may result in paying royalty payments.
7) Always get deadlines extended. It shows you are in control and a Christmas article at Easter will be unique but in December it will be only one of many.
8) Have firmly fixed ideas before you begin about such things as art work, fonts to be used etc. You know what you want so why listen.
9) Be inflexible when it comes to publicity opportunities such as signings and book fairs – if only the second Thursday in December will do stick to it.
10) Most importantly – do not accept editorial advice – this is your work take it or leave it.
Not everyone can a bad Author, but follow all or as many of these rules as possible and you’ll make it!