Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Given a quick turn on a revision? Take heart!

When a writer recently complained of having to do a quick turn on revisions for a freelance magazine piece that was written as queried, here was my response:

Article due: Feb. 15

Article publishes: May 1

Editor gets back to you and demands rewrite/fix/whatever in a matter of days: April 15

This happens fairly often. You just have to build it in. Also, even if the editor likes your query, he may assume that when it fleshes out in an article it falls within a fairly narrow set of article guidelines of what their articles of that nature read and feel like.

The key is -- learn to suit your editor. That's the bottom line of who you have to please. If the editor ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. If you don't think you can, move on. But be warned: they're all different, they all have their things, and there's no getting away from that.

I had an editor liked my query, took the story, over-reacted with strong, irritated language, I tweaked two small things that WERE NOT EARTH-SHAKING, she's happy as a lamb. Which made me think her problem may just have been her manic/depressive meds got out of whack. Whatever. I catered, I kowtowed, I got the check, got the byline -- and got the next assignment.

One of the things that I think I've noticed on one occasion: I've seen an editor overreact and realized that she herself shrinks from fixing copy because she doesn't like to write and doesn't have time to figure out what the story is so that she could fix it.

Whereas when she explained it to me, who did the research, the fix was simple. So if you have a panicky edit, instead of panicking yourself, just work calmly to fix it to spec. Could be easier than you think, especially if you're experienced.


Mike Strong said...

I too have had a similar experience. Often it's a stressed-out-also-overtaxed editor calling about something they don't understand because they're eyes have glazed over because they've read a gazillion things at one sitting. I ALWAYS prefer to be the calm in the storm in that situation. It doesn't always work, but if you give them what they want, even if it's "because I said so" you're likely to get another gig with them. Excellent piece by you!

J. Louise Larson said...

I love that image of being the calm in the middle of the storm.