In my last post I commented on all the books and classes available to teach you what you need to know to have a professional looking manuscript and how to write a great cover letter; another thing they all mention, which should, really, go without having to be said, is to be polite. In an article in the May 2010 issue of The Writer (I know, I'm a year and a half behind on my reading, that's what happens when you take uni courses), Liz Scheier, a former editor at Penguin and Random House, talks about ten of the most common mistakes she saw. She brackets the other nine mistakes with comments about being polite, and approaching potential editors and agents with the right attitude, so obviously what should go without saying, obviously needs to be said — treat everyone with courtesy. Don't bad-mouth people. Show respect. Treat this as what it is, a business relationship.
The nine other common mistakes were, in her words; Logorrhea, Over-reliance on the passive voice, Hopping on the trend band-wagon, Not reading enough, Not doing research (of markets), Pooh-poohing agents, Skipping revisions, and Internet shenanigans (which was basically the same point about watching what you say where someone can overhear you, which, on the net, is anyone, anytime). Oh, and she mentioned the fact that some writers approach editors with the attitude that they, the writer, know more about writing than the editor does and therefore don't want their book to be 'tampered with'. Not a great attitude to have. Much better to leave your ego at the door.
The one thing about submitting stories and manuscripts all those books and classes don't usually mention is the fact that Timing can be everything. A fact that I learned the hard way. I took an extra month to edit a story before sending it out only to find that the magazine I had targeted the story for had just gone belly-up. So, as with most things in life, from sports to sex, timing is of the utmost importance.
In : Writing