Editors & EtiquettebyKillerMuffin©
Cruising for an editor? A bit of etiquette...
Common sense, above all, should be the watch word. You aren't exactly trying to get a job interview as the CEO of Diamler-Chrysler, so the p's and q's aren't life and death important. You are, however, trying to get a stranger with some knowledge on the subject to look at your story and tell you what they think. You don't want to make this person feel hostile toward you, or think you're rude right off the bat either. Since Miss Manners isn't likely to stick her etiquette minded nose into it, a short list of "guidelines" might be of use to first time, or even 40th time, story submitters.
There is only one set in stone rule. Use your common sense. Some of us have to dig deep to find it, but I'm sure it's in there. Somewhere. 1. Some editors preferred to be queried first. Some don't mind receiving a story and a thanks for your time email. Some might. It's best to query first. Some editors don't have a full box, some don't have time. I've talked with several and opinions on this vary. It's better to be safe than sorry and to err on the side of politeness.
2. Don't assume the editor has the same word processor you do. Some editors use off the wall things, like me. I use Word Perfect. That means I can't read your file. You may be using a Mac and your editor may have windows. In that case, you'll have to paste into an email. Usually saving in rich text format helps.
3. Unless your story is short, don't paste it in an email without asking the editor first. I don't edit online. I do it in WordPerfect, and cutting and pasting out of the email usually loses the formatting.
4. Be polite and don't use "chat or email" shorthand. hi, :~) hope u have time to do this 4 me! If an editor you are querying is pretty busy, this may get you rejected.
5. Please realize that the editors are all volunteers. They are doing this in the interest of good writing and good stories. They aren't being compensated in any way, shape or form. They don't have to accept your story and it's not a privilege to edit your story. On the other side of the coin, you are due a timely response. If the editor you've chosen doesn't return your email within a reasonable amount of time, look through and find another one. (Laurel's note: if an editor does not give you a timely response, please email Laurel with the details.)
6. All the editors come from different backgrounds. Some haven't edited anywhere else, they just have a talent with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you are looking for something specific, let them know. Sometimes an editor and a writer just don't match up. Don't be disappointed or feel that your writing isn't any good because your editor doesn't feel that they can edit for you due to a style difference. It's your content, not your writing that the editor has trouble with. Ernest Hemmingway is a master author, I can't stand to read it. Stephen King is a master author, some people can't stand to read it. Danielle Steel is a master author, some people can't stand to read it.
7. Don't argue with the editor. They are merely giving you their opinion, you may take it or leave it as you choose. In some instances the editor is dead wrong, and bringing it up to them in a polite, assertive way will do far more for both of you than doing it either passively or aggressively. Everyone is human.
8. Your story is your baby. When an editor points out something they feel is wrong, don't get offended. They aren't attacking you or your story. They are trying to help you. Writing and editing is a learning process, some of the bumps in the road can hurt.
9. After you get your story back from the editor and start going through it to consider the feedback, don't feel that you have to check with your editor for every single change, or even any of them. Some things you should be able to learn from. You were fully capable of writing an entire story by yourself, then you found the courage to send it to a complete stranger for his or her opinion. You have the ability inside of you to apply whatever your editor has told you to the story. You are writing the story, not your editor, so you don't need your editor's approval for everything. You can always make changes and resubmit it to your editor for a "what do you think?" look.
10. If you feel your editor isn't doing anything for you, or you just don't "click," you don't have to keep using an editor out of politeness.
Bear in mind that these are suggestions based on my personal experience and the experiences of a few editors that I have spoken with. Feel free to add or make corollaries to anything. Some of these things don't apply to all authors, or even most of them. Common sense will win the day.