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Kim Wilson
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Dabbling for 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 editor?

2. Has the editor already accepted a similar piece?

3. Will the piece fit into the publication's editorial calendar?

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 the beginning?

18. Does the piece keep the editor's attention until the end?

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 publication's audience?

26. Does anything in the piece have the potential of a lawsuit?

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.















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