The latest post in our weekly on-writing series, about small tasks to accomplish big things.
Serving the Editor
A mistake I see a lot of teenage writers is that they write a certain story, and are thrilled with it. They then find a magazine that publishes their kind of story, submit it and wait with high expectations. The story is rejected. They are heartbroken and angry.
Their mistake, obvious or not, is that they don't understand how a magazine works. A magazine must sell subscriptions and keep current subscribers happy. They do so by delivering a quality product. Vogue, for example, publishes the latest on fashion, socialites, etc. If Vogue fails to publish the *latest and best* stories or styles, their subscription rates will fall and so do the editors' salaries. Nobody wants that.
The way Vogue and other magazines accomplish the goal of delivering a fine product is paying fine writers to make the product for them. We want to be that writer.
So, in order to be the kind of writer magazines love to hire, we must understand that we are serving the editor. Teen writers (and some adult ones) carry around the idea that publishing serves writing, that editors almost "owe" us and need to publish us. Naievete, my friends, is rampant. Publishing is a business that allows writers to do what they love to do. If you don't understand publishing, you don't understand a lot about being a writer.
Next time you're considering a submission, think about the zine you're submitting to. What do they need? How can you give them what they need in the most professional manner? Think like that, and you're on your way.