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Dollars . . .
What Do Editors Look
For In Articles? Editorial Criteria for Magazines
by Alyice Edrich
Copyright © 2004, Alyice Edrich
Have you ever wondered what happens to your
article once it reaches the desk of an editor? Contrary to "new-writer" belief,
magazine editors do more than just accept or reject articles based on their
personal beliefs, or whether or not the article is formatted correctly. Editors
approve or reject articles based on the publication's publishing criteria.
Criteria such as:
1. Did the writer submit the piece to the right
2. Has the editor already accepted a similar piece?
3. Will the piece fit into the publication's editorial
4. Is a staff writer or another editor already working
on a similar piece?
5. Has a similar piece run in the recent past? If yes,
does this piece differ enough to printing it again?
6. Is there room in the publication for this piece in
the near future or will it be placed on hold?
7. Is the piece restricted by time? In other words,
will the piece still be news or valuable to the publication's audience when it
hits the stands?
8. If the piece is for an online publication, the
editor may ask: Will this piece still have truth six months down the line? What
about a year from now?
9. Does the piece deliver everything the author
promised in the query letter?
10. Is the piece written in the publication's voice?
11. What section would this piece fit into?
12. Is the piece the correct word count?
13. Is the piece well-written? In other words, is it
free of grammatical and spelling errors?
14. If there are grammatical errors, is the piece
worth asking the writer for a rewrite?
15. Is this an opinion piece or one based on expert
quotes and facts?
16. Can the author back up his/her facts, stats, or
quotes with concrete evidence?
17. Does the piece grab the editor's attention from
18. Does the piece keep the editor's attention until
19. Does the piece have a natural flow or does it read
as though it has a lot of missing information?
20. Does the piece stay on point or drift as though
the author has Alzheimer's disease?
21. Does the piece offer something of value or does it
leave the reader thinking, "So what?"
22. If the general idea of the piece is good, but not
quite on target with the publication's theme, is it worth the time to ask the
writer to refocus the piece?
23. Can the editor find an advertiser to place an
advertisement alongside the piece?
24. Does the article offend any of the publication's
advertisers? Is the offense enough to lose a contract over?
25. Is the piece too controversial for the
26. Does anything in the piece have the potential of a
Sometimes, editors simply reject articles from writers who've been blacklisted.
Yes, you heard correctly. As ugly as it sounds, writers get blacklisted. In
other words, whether from personal experience or networking conversations, if a
freelance writer (or author) consistently has problems (been a pain to work
with, refused to rewrite a piece based on editorial decisions, didn't follow
through on assignment, lied, delivered false information, had an exceptional
query letter but delivered a sloppy article, is habitually late on turning in
assignments, etc.) that name becomes synonymous with "do not work with."
And finally, editors may look to see if a writer can follow simple directions.
While it's true that an occasional "going against the grain" can get your foot in
the door faster than following a stampede, a writer's ability to follow
directions is often a good indicator of his/her willingness to work with the
editor as well as his/her reliability.
Alyice Edrich is an affordable
freelance writer specializing in how-to articles and Q&A interviews for the Web.
To view her freelance writing rates, or to hire her for your next writing
project, visit http://alyiceedrich.net.
New to freelance writing?
this informative article.
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