Creating a relationship with an editor begins long before you submit your first query letter or manuscript to him, before she reads your name printed on your cover letter, typed in the address line of an e-mail or scribbled on the outside of an envelope, and certainly way before he or she reads your submission and makes a decision on it.
The roots of that relationship are put down the moment you bend intently over this book and begin researching the publication and the editor you want to send your work to.
All writers suffer from “hurry up and query” syndrome. We spend so much precious time crafting our work—choosing each word with loving care, agonizing over plot complications, pulling out our hair over whether or not our heroine should be named Melanie or Melissa—and yet the moment we’ve put the final touch on it, we instantly fling it out to every “To Whom it May Concern” we can get an e-mail address for. Editors of fantasy magazines are getting our light romance. Editors of nonfiction magazines are getting our Star Wars epic. Editors of children’s magazines are getting our blood-drenched horror.
It’s difficult enough to get published. Mindlessly sending out query letters without thoroughly scoping both the publication and a specific editor first makes your work falling into the right hands as likely as tossing it out the window and hoping for the same results.
Many of us feel that we aren’t doing a day’s work if we aren’t sending out ten queries before five o’clock, myself included. However, getting an editor in your crosshairs is a far better and more efficient way of spending your time. Instead of making it your goal to get your story on the desks of ten faceless editors before dinner, limit yourself to one query a day, or even every other day, and spend that time putting a face, a name, a personality and a publishing preference to your target editor.
“Everyone loves being addressed by name,” points out Colin Meldrum, editor of the literary magazine A cappella Zoo. “We’re tuned to perk up at the sight or sound of our names.”
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