Things you're doing that drive your editor crazy
I wrote a piece last week that called out five of my least favorite things contributors do when they’re submitting pieces. I’ve talked to other editors about this a lot, and we’ve all got our own things that drive us nuts. We, of course, are not totally innocent, either — someone in the comments section called me out for using sentence fragments (guilty!).
Do other editors have any pet peeves? Do contributors have questions about best practices?
Here’s the piece:
1. Spell my name wrong. I get called Carlos a LOT. If you notice, there is no ‘s’ at the end of my name. I get it though, I’ve gotten it all my life. I thought it was perhaps because I look Spanish, but I get it in emails all the time too. For me though it can be an indicator of the person’s attention to detail. If they can’t get my name right, what else are they overlooking? I very much appreciate it when I get another email recognizing the error and correcting themselves. But when it’s repeated over and over again, it drives me up the wall.
2. A writer (or photog/filmmaker) starting the convo by saying, “I’m an accomplished writer…” Newsflash: “accomplished” writers do not say this about themselves. Tell me what you’ve done instead. I had someone pitch an article, said they are “an accomplished writer” in a reply to me and went on to ask what specific website or publication I had. If that’s unclear to you, this “accomplished writer” pitched me without even knowing what publication he was pitching. How’s that for accomplished!
I enjoyed that article! One thing I would like to know is what do you want to see? If I was to submit a response for a press trip or submit a post idea, what is it that gets your attention and blows your mind?
I ask because I had read many articles like this about what not to do and what drives editors crazy, which I find very helpful to avoid some of the silly mistakes that I was guilty of! But last night I submitted my first ever response for a press trip in the Matador U Marketplace and as I was writing it I was thinking of all these things not to do so I didn’t make too many mistakes but I wasn’t really sure of what an editor would love to see so if you have any advice on this I would be interested to read them.
Good question Katie. As an editor at Matador, the first thing I immediately notice is the pitched title. It’s very obvious if the person making the pitch is familiar or not with the publication. If the title you pitch is “onbrand” with the publication that’s a really great start. If it’s right away obvious it’s not going to be a fit I might not get past the title. If I do get past the title I’m looking at the first few sentences of the piece/excerpt. I want to get pulled into the piece right away, and this is usually done by the writer effectively placing me, grounding me in the story. When the beginning is rambly I lose interest very quickly. I know within the first 2-3 sentences if a piece is a fit. There’s a section in the Fundamentals of Travel Writing course about this…how often the first paragraphs(s) can be the writer just “revving up” which I find very true. There’ve been many times where I’ve cut the first one or two paragraphs because the real story really starts later on.
I also want to know fairly quickly what I’m getting into. If I can’t figure out what the piece is about in the first paragraph or so I’m moving on…unless it’s intriguing enough that it keeps me hooked.
When it comes to press trip applications, I’m first looking to see if the person matches the requirements we’re looking for.
And I just thought of another don’t-do: Mass email publications with a pitch.
Yeah, seconding what Carlo said, I think what’s most important is to have an understanding of the brand.
The truth is, by simply submitting a professional pitch/application that hits all the points we’re asking for, you’re already putting yourself above a good chunk of the field. Which is honestly why I think you see more “don’t” lists than “do” lists — it’s actually not that hard to please us. Just be respectful of our time and be professional. Then, even if we don’t end up accepting your pitch, we may well want to work with you in the future anyway.
Thanks so much, I appreciate you both responding. Know the brand, get off to a gripping start that makes sense, no mass email pitches, be professional and hit the requested points – I’m taking all of this on so that I can improve my blog work, so be prepared for some better pitches from me!
Right on Katie!
Riffing on what Matt just said, not enough people look at the long game, at the potential of opportunities whether or not you’re successful on a specific one. People who work hard are noticed, people who engage and hang around, who show their work ethic and enthusiasm, are noticed. There’s a reason that a good chunk of the current team at Matador are past MatadorU students and contributors.