Help an Editor Out

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I’m in the process of producing two different lifestyle magazines for the month of July, and the idea for this post came as I was editing and uploading copy for our creative designer. If you are a freelance writer, here three ways you can help your editor out and make for a more enjoyable working relationship.

1. Be conscientious of deadlines. This is so important. I’ve worked with a few different writers and photographers who always seem to be running about three steps behind. Now, I know I’m not one to talk, as I often leave my own writing off until the very last minute. But if an editor gives you a deadline, it’s for a reason. I shouldn’t have to pad deadlines for certain writers, but I find myself doing it because I know they’ll turn things in three to four days after the deadline. This puts an editor in a bind, especially if the copy is going to require heavy editing when it does come in.

2. Think of ways to enhance or add to your copy. This month, I had one writer turn in her polished article (a profile) and she also included several different bullet points she couldn’t fit in the article in case I could use them for photo captions. I have to write all photo captions as part of my job, so I appreciated her effort. This same writer always tries to help me gather photos, even though she technically doesn't have to. It's helped me save time more than once. Another writer gave me suggestions for some photos on a business Facebook page that would go along with the article. This was also helpful to me when putting together the folder of photos to offer our creative designer. Think about sidebar options to help break up copy, too. In one article I put together recently, I wrote about storing and using fresh fruits and vegetables in meals, but I also included a sidebar on which produce is in season during the summer months. It made for a colorful sidebox that broke up the text and included extra information for the reader. I’d also recommend coming up with a headline and subhead for your work when possible. An editor can change it, but they will appreciate your input.

3. Keep the ideas coming. I like nothing better than when a writer turns in an assignment and immediately pitches me a new story. Editors wear many hats. They are writing and proofing copy, planning multiple projects at one time, assigning photography, managing spreadsheets and e-mail inquiries and marketing firms. There are many months I don’t even come up for air until the 20th of the month when the magazine goes to the printer, and then I have to have the entire next month’s issue lined up to assign. While I try to be proactive and have my plan in place, it doesn’t always work out that way. I appreciate it when writers look ahead to the editorial calendar and pitch me an idea I can go ahead and get them working on. Editors are always looking for new ideas—don’t be afraid to send them a bullet-pointed pitch with the person or people you would like to interview for the idea.

What are ways you’ve helped an editor out recently?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also blogs at and produces the true crime podcast Missing in the Carolinas.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I never considered turning in copy that might be used to caption a photo. Something new to consider!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I can't help out any editors at this point. I'm too much of a hot mess, writer-wise. ;) However, if and when I get to that point, you've given some very specific (and easy) ways to win brownie points with an editor.

Angela Mackintosh said...

These are great tips! I love it when writers suggest pull quotes from their author interviews and include photos. It makes my job easier.

I'm nodding to your last paragraph about not coming up for air until it goes to the printer--in my case, until I do the html, graphic design, and create an email newsletter. On top of your editing jobs, you write and produce an amazing podcast and these blog posts! You have to tell me how you keep your hair looking so good while you're wearing so many different hats! ;)

Renee Roberson said...

Most writers have more information than they can use for projects/articles/books. I think it's great to pull some of those unused pieces and put them into captions, it makes for more interesting copy.

Just keep these in mind for when you're writing promo articles for your book! :-)

My hair looks like this once every five weeks when I can splurge on the salon, LOL. The rest of the time it's in a bun or ponytail. Now that I'm "up for air" time to go work on the podcast. Zzzz.

Renee Roberson said...

Oh, and by the way, love the new look of the blog!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks, Renee! Our fabulous team member Nicole Pyles upgraded The Muffin's template. Since Blogger is changing their posting platform, our old template was breaking, so we had to upgrade it. Believe it or not, she upgraded everything in half an hour! I definitely recommend her if anyone needs help. :)

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