How to Get an Editor to Notice You

Two Methods:Ways to Earn Positive Notice From an EditorCorresponding With Your Editor

Breaking into a particular writing market can be difficult. One thing that can help you break in is to establish a good relationship with an editor. To build such a relationship, you have to get an editor to notice you for the right reasons. The right reasons include more than just being able to write well; they include being professional and cooperative in your dealings with editors. The following steps offer advice in how to get noticed by an editor for these qualities.

Method 1
Ways to Earn Positive Notice From an Editor

  1. Image titled Get an Editor to Notice You Step 1
    Read and follow the publication submission guidelines. Publications create submission guidelines to make it easier on both writers and editors. By reading and following the guidelines, you're producing work that the publication is looking for, making it easier on you as a writer, in a format that its editors can more easily vet for suitability and quality.
    • Most publications with an Internet presence offer their submission guidelines on their websites. For those that don't, you can obtain the guidelines by writing to the publication at the address given.
    • If you blog, consider writing your blog posts according to the guidelines of the publication you plan to submit to. You can then invite the editor to review your posts at the time you contact him or her. Not only will the posts show your expertise in the subject, but by matching the publication's style, it makes it easier for the editor to see how your work will fit with the publication.
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    Develop a working understanding of the publication's audience. While the submission guidelines often provide a short description of the publication's target audience, you should try to gain a better understanding by reading at least a single issue of that publication and possibly also issues of competing publications. If you can show how your submission will benefit the publication's readers, you stand a better chance of getting noticed by an editor than by filling your correspondence with flattery or big words.
    • This working understanding should also include an understanding of the publication's necessary lead time for seasonal material. You'll gain an editor's notice and respect if you learn to anticipate when a publication needs certain material to run in the spring, summer, fall, winter, or holiday seasons.
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    Develop and be able to pitch a number of ideas effectively. To be noticed by an editor, you need to develop your skill at pitching story or article ideas to him or her. You can do this through any of the methods listed below, but if you can master more than 1 of them, you stand a better chance of being noticed and accepted.
    • Query: In either letter or email form, this is the most common and often the best method to contact an editor. Your query should be focused on your story or article, your background that qualifies you to write it, and your relevant past writing experience.
    • Letter of introduction: A letter of introduction (LOI) is useful for contacting publications where you haven't yet been able to determine what their needs are. An LOI should be written in the same tone as the publication whose editor you're contacting and should mention something you have been able to learn about it and its audience. It should focus on your writing expertise and conclude with an invitation for them to contact you, such as offering to send them writing samples. When possible, include a referral from either a staff writer or an editor you've worked with in the past. (Despite being called a "letter" of introduction, you can also do an LOI as an email.)
    • Cold calling: If you're more extroverted than most writers typically are, you can pitch your ideas to editors over the telephone. You may find it frustrating to navigate through the publication's voice mail directory, but if you have several ideas ready, you can pitch 1 and then the other if the first is rejected. You can also use the telephone as a follow-up to a query or letter of introduction.
    • Networking: You can approach editors with your ideas and credentials directly at networking events. You may meet editors for local publications at events sponsored by local businesses or chambers of commerce and those for national publications at writer's conferences and conventions for fans of a particular genre, such as romance, mystery, or science fiction.
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    Play to your strength. You may be good at several forms of writing; however, because of the number of manuscripts editors may review, you stand a better chance of impressing them with your single strongest skill than a large number of good, but not great skills. If you know 1 subject better than anyone else, look to write about that subject first and foremost; if, in writing fiction, you excel in dialogue, write a story where the dialogue stands out.
    • If you, in fact, are very strong in several areas, then find other publications that play to those strengths and direct your strongest work in each area to the publication best suited to it.
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    Keep at it. None of the above steps are a magic formula to getting an editor to notice you or to get your work published. However, by persistently directing work of consistent quality, you will gain an editor's notice and respect and eventually see your work in print.

Method 2
Corresponding With Your Editor

  1. Image titled Get an Editor to Notice You Step 6
    Address your correspondence to the right editor, by name. Small publications may have only a single editor, while larger publications may have an editor for each department in which they publish. Learning who the right editor is and addressing him or her by name will earn you that editor's notice and show you as a writer who cares about detail. Editors are listed under their publication's listing in the current "Writer's Market" or on the publication's website.
    • If you are looking for a specific editor's name on a publication website and it's not given, you can often derive the editor's email address by looking for the email address for one of the publication's other representatives. Note the format the identifier component of the email address is in; common formats are "Firstname.Lastname," "Firstname_Lastname," "InitialLastname," or "LastnameInitial." Generally, all email addresses for the same entity follow the same format, except when someone goes by his or her initials or when more than 1 person at the publication has the same first and last name. If you have any doubts as to who the right editor is, you can always ask them via Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media connection.
  2. Image titled Get an Editor to Notice You Step 7
    Communicate in a professional tone. Although electronic communications such as email and instant messaging have made written communications easier and less formal than letters, you still need to maintain a professional tone. You can use "Hello" or "Hi" in your salutations, or even the "Dear" used in written letters, but not something like "Yo" or "What up, dude." You need to spell out every word correctly in your message; you can't get by with textspeak shorthand. You also need to follow the rules for capitalization and punctuation, unless you plan to market yourself to a poetry magazine as the next E.E. Cummings.
    • As you develop a working relationship with an editor, you may find that your communication with him or her goes beyond the bounds of your current or future writing projects. Even when your editor becomes your friend, keep the tone professional. (You'll find this easier if your normal communication style is a professional-sounding one.)
    • The professional tone should extend to your website and social media pages as well. If you make it a practice to include the URLs of your website and social media pages in your email signature, which you should, the content of those pages should be as well-written and professional as the content of your emails.
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    Be succinct and direct. Your correspondence with an editor should be focused and short. Queries should be about a page (5 to 6 paragraphs) in length, and letters of introduction running 1 to 2 pages, not including any accompanying referrals. Leave out any personal information that doesn't relate to your expertise as a writer in general or to the subject you plan to write about.
    • When communicating by email, make the subject line pertinent to the purpose of your email. While "Hello" is an appropriate salutation, it isn't specific enough for an email subject line. If your email is to introduce you to the editor, a better subject line would be "Interested in writing for [name of the publication]." If the email is a query, something like "Proposed article:" followed by either the subject you plan to write on or the title you have in mind.
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    Reply promptly to requests. Prompt replies show you as a writer the editor can depend upon with a time-critical assignment. If you don't have an answer right away, reply by saying that you don't have the answer but will have it by a certain time � and then deliver by that time, if not before.
    • Feel free to take the advice Scotty gives Geordi LaForge in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode "Relics" and deliberately quote a longer period of time (within reason) to deliver than what you think you actually need. You may well find you'll need that extra time, and as long as you deliver by the date you promised, no one needs to know that you can deliver in much less time than that.


  • While actively targeting several publications and editors you want to get to notice you, join a few writing groups, either professional guilds or online groups such as those on LinkedIn.

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Categories: Publishing