14
Apr
10

Lookin’ Back

Over the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten published in alot of places and I think now’s a good time to review some of the lessons I’ve learned. In no particular order here they are:

 

Editors are people:

It took me awhile to figure that out.  I know some of them can seem demanding.  They’re probably busy folks and under more stress than freelance writers.  They have deadlines to meet and I imagine they have a lot more juggling of articles to do than we could ever dream of.

For some reason, I used to picture editors eating their offspring  just so they have more room at the kitchen table but, most of them really don’t.  They’re actually humans, just some of them have their antennas tuned in to a different frequency.

Editors who send rejections are pretty decent folks. They take the time to write back to you and tell you what you’re doing wrong.  I save every one of them and use them as guidelines for my next submission. I figure you don’t have to like editors; they have to like you.

Everybody makes mistakes:

When something goes wrong, whether you did it or the editor did, get it fixed, as quickly as possible and move on.  I’ve pulled some doozies when my Spellcheck was sleeping on the job.  The damn thing doesn’t know the difference between Maria and Marla, years from tears, far from fart, goof from golf and probably rapper from paper, for all I know.  It’s a good idea to have a second opinion; get someone, anyone to proofread your work before you submit it.  That’s kinda tough sometimes when you’re in a foreign country.  Most of my proofing is done by email.  Other times, I’ve caught errors after my submission’s gone and I’ve looked it over a day or two later but, had time to catch the editor before it hit print.

Then, there’s the times an editor had a computer hiccup and misspelled something in the editing process. A misspelling actually gets published.  If you don’t tell them, you’re not doing them any favor.  They can usually make corrections online and will thank you for your support.  Next thing you know, you trust them and they trust you.  That can be a good thing but, it also lead me to make the…..

Biggest Mistake of my one year writing career:

One editor trusted me with WordPress before I really knew what it was capable of doing.  So, playing around with it one night, while she was out doing whatever editors do,  I accidentally posted an article, right on the front page of her magazine!  Damn, what are you supposed to do?

I couldn’t do the manly thing; blame it on my wife because she wasn’t here.  Dammit, I didn’t mean to submit a story.  I was just experimenting.  If it had been something halfway decent, I might have let it go but, this was garbage.  After I cussed and said, “Holy Frickin’ Sugar” a few times I sent an instant message or Tweet, not sure if it was invented at the time.  Anyway it went something like this, “OMG,  I just published an article on your website, by accident.  It’s on the FRONT PAGE, where are you?”  Within minutes we were in a conference call and got it straightened out.  Old people shouldn’t have that kind of access until they know enough about WordPress.  So, now I don’t.

Check your facts:

This isn’t easy to do online but, it is important.  There’s an awful lot of misinformation floating around on the internet.  When you’re researching and a few Doctorates are disagreeing on Wikipedia, either put both sides of the argument in your story or go check Britannica; it’s a kid’s Encyclopedia but, always leads to some reliable references.  It must be against the law to lie to children in the UK, or something like that.

Promote your work and the publication it’s in:

Use the social media to promote your articles.  Online magazines bread and butter come from hits or views on what’s posted on their sites.  Most editors know how many visits have been made to your material.  The writers drawing the crowds are the ones magazines like writing for them.  If you promote your work, the homepage and other writers’ work, everybody comes out ahead.  It’s your way of thanking the editor but, I always make it a point to thank them by email, too.

Do whatever you can to make the editor’s job easier:

It may be something as simple as finding photos on Flickr to go with your article or sizing the photos yourself.  It could be typing in the html codes for your links or putting them in parentheses, just ask.  Every online publication has their own method and it’s not always included in their writer’s guidelines.

Make sure you know the publisher’s deadlines and get your work turned in early, not at the last minute.  Editors know the people they can count on and forget about those they aren’t certain of.

I’m always looking forward to being in new publications, lots of them.  So, what’s the big deal about LOOKIN’ BACK?

I’ll answer that with a question.

How many times has something sneaked up in front of you and bit you in the butt?

 

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18 Responses to “Lookin’ Back”


  1. 1 Beverly J Struble
    April 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Miles = wisdom…. thanks Bev

  2. April 14, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    True, true and true again. Good idea to mention the promoting, not only of your won work but of the magazines you write for too. Talking of which, how about another twirl at planet eye traveler, Mike dearest?

    • April 15, 2010 at 1:49 am

      Inka,
      Thank you. I have to try and find a way to save a link to you on Lonely Planet. Best if you shoot me one every time you hit print there. What’s a young gal like you doin’ livin’ on a lonely planet, anyway?

  3. April 15, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Oh, this is great stuff, Mike! Funny too. Congratulations on your one-year anniversary!

    • April 16, 2010 at 1:35 am

      Sabina,
      Thanks, it’s really not like a big anniversary where I’d get all dressed-up and take the wife to the golden arches but, more like stopping halfway up a hill to take a look at where you’ve been and deciding which path to take next.
      It’d be real easy to say “This is farther then I ever thought I could go” and coast back down to the safety of familiar grounds.

      It looks like I’ll catch my breath, stretch my legs, put all my junk in my pack and keep climbing. I’ll be ziggin’ and zaggin’ and may run into you along the way up the hill. If I bump into you, I’ll buy you a beer!

      Cheers,
      Mike

  4. April 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    thanks for sharing your experiences – good advice for a newbie like myself 🙂

    • April 17, 2010 at 2:48 am

      Rebecca,
      Thanks for dropping-in. Hope you become a regular here. Grab all the contacts you can find visiting this page. They’re all the ones who know what they’re doing and visit me just for laughs !

      Cheers,
      Mike

  5. April 17, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Super Mike! And funny as always 🙂

    • April 17, 2010 at 4:20 am

      Neha,
      Welcome to my miserable world of writing blogs !
      The World Wide Web guys, sometimes bypass the island I’m on. Trying to get to India would be quicker by windsurfing but, I’ll manage to visit you today.

      Cheers,
      Mike

  6. 11 Sumitran
    April 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Greetings, Mike !

    Am back at work today after a much deserved and well-earned weekend break !

    Saw this blog and I want to share my hearty congratulations with you for a great piece.

    Your subtle wit and humour is sparkling throughout the piece !

    I have sent you a detailed email with some comments, which I would rather be for your eyes only !

    This is indeed a good way to start my busy week …

    Keep them coming 🙂 !

    Best Regards,

    Sumitran

    • April 17, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Sumitran,
      Pretty smooth-talkin; devil yourself!
      Thanks for your kind comments, everywhere. Your encouragement is one of the factors that keeps me going.

      Cheers,
      Mike

  7. April 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Gosh how I love your sense of humor ;o) Believe in yourself…YOU CAN WRITE! And what could be better than creating laughter and smiles because of the words you write ;o) I’ll look forward to collaborating on our next article.

    A good lesson for all of us, but know that I never took the time, nor take the time to think twice about it–it’s Marla, not Maria = hehehe ;o) I’ll bet everyone reading this can think of a time when they did the same. I know I did and I’ll make you all a bet that we’ll all do it again someday.

    Keep up the good work and have a great day,
    M

  8. April 21, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Marla,
    Just like my first date, you’re my first editor and I’ll never forget you. You are probably the the person who encourages me the most to keep on writing. And even better than that other girl, you don’t slap me !

    Cheers,
    Mike

  9. 15 Ron Meadows
    June 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Remember the Good Old Days? Tomorrow, today will be a Good Old Day!
    A great start to a beautiful day. Drug my hung-over ars outa the hay, stumbled to the coffee pot (luckily I had enough mind left to get the pot ready and set the timer for sometime around eight am before going into a snoring coma) After the first cup, a couple of smokes and wondering around outside to feed the squirrls and birds, I poured my second cup and logged onto my e-mail to see what was up. There, a note from you. Now-a-days anything about getting old grabs my attention,kinda like a sign to a woman, “YARD SALE TODAY” I am a lot softer, slower, a little outa shape, and not unlike you shed a few tears when thinking back to those days and the fun we had. The early years, yes they were great. You learning the chords, belching out those old Hank Williams songs like, Your Cheatin’ Heart, and my favorite you used to sing was “I’ve Been Everywhere Man” I still am amazed at how you got all those words to come out so fast. Spent my R&R in Yokahama (now there’s a story for later) came back to Nam with the fifth of Smirnoff Vodka you had asked for and a large bottle of Saki. I am still awed that they let me on the plane, as drunk as I was that early in the morning. The flight attendant wouldn’t let me hole my bottles so she promised me she would return them safely when we landed in DaNang. We managed to drain every last drop out of those bottles and had a hella of a good time doin it.
    My day is now off to a great start with a smile after reading about The Good Old Days. Thanks Mike for the memories. I will always cherrish them.
    Yes, we must get together and drink, sing and show em we can still do it. No Harley though.

  10. 16 Marilyn
    June 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    HEY I WANT TO BE THERE WHEN YOU ALLL ARE DRINKING AND SINGING WITH THAT GUITAR*****I WANT TO HEAR “HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN!”


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