How to Be an Editor’s Dream Writer

by Linore Rose Burkard

Wouldn’t we all love to be an editor’s dream writer! But what does that mean?
Perhaps it will be useful to examine what it doesn’t look like, first.

Ready or Not! Here I Come! 

The Wanna-Be Who Will Never Be

I’ve met unpublished writers at workshops or conferences who believe they are the dream writer who simply hasn’t been discovered yet. They’re roving around, searching for some agent or editor to take them on and discover their brilliance.

But here’s the thing: They don’t really care which agent or publisher. They just want SOME agent, or SOME publisher. And that, in case you didn’t catch it,  is evidence from the get-go that they couldn’t possibly be the dream writer. A dream writer won’t query a publisher or agent who isn’t a good fit for them. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. A dream writer reads guidelines, studies a publisher’s catalog, and checks out an agent’s blog posts. She knows where she won’t be wanted, and thus where she ought to target her efforts.

Here are a few other reasons that some writers are not that dream writer; reasons they won’t divvy up right away and possibly never own up to:

1. They’re desperate for affirmation and willing to cut corners to get it. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting affirmation. It’s natural for human beings to seek positive feedback for what we do. But being desperate for it can make you hurry projects, scribble out queries, seek a publisher or agent too soon, or the wrong publisher or agent, all because of that overwhelming NEED for affirmation. Even if you’ve waited until the work is relatively clean, the desperation trickles through–it’s sort of like trying to hide dirty laundry behind a curtain: It still smells, and it will sour the process, and probably the results (any work that is published).

ANTIDOTE: Pray for guidance and patience while studying the industry. Listen to advice and trust God to lead.

2. They’re “done” studying the craft of writing; can’t be bothered to get a critique or two and won’t receive criticism anyway.  

Once this writer finishes their first book they feel they’ve “arrived.” They are now an author and no one, not no one, is gonna tell them how to improve their craft. Besides, anyone can see their book is perfect already!

ANTIDOTE: Pray for guidance and patience while studying the craft of writing. Listen to advice and trust God to lead. 

3. They write what they think will sell, never mind the market or what industry professionals seem to think. Their book is the exception to every rule. (Isn’t it obvious?)

ANTIDOTE: Pray for guidance and patience while studying the market. Listen to advice and trust God to lead.

4. If they acknowledge some errors or sloppiness in their work, so what? The publisher’s editor will clean it up. It’s what they do, right?   

ANTIDOTE: Pray for guidance and patience while studying the craft. Listen to advice and trust God to lead! 

So what does a dream writer look like?

By contrast, a dream writer continues to study the craft, always learning and striving to improve.
She targets her queries to carefully chosen markets, or publishers or agents. She behaves like a pro even before the big break, getting a professional headshot, a website or quality blog, and invests in the business end of writing.  She has a business card, a reliable email server –and not a cutesy email address, either, like, “susiescribbles@…”–(please forgive me if your name is Susie and you scribble, but you get the idea.). She doesn’t wait for success to ACT like success. And, then, when the contract is in hand, she comes through with her manuscripts, on time, every time.

Said manuscripts are squeaky clean–they may need revisions here or there, some polishing of the plot or trimming of fat–but they’re not a chore to read, and don’t cause undue work for an editor.

In short, professionalism counts. Act like one, and you’ll be treated like one. Do the necessary rope climbing to earn that affirmation–and it will come!  

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Her books opened up the genre in the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, she home-schools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and iPad in the other. Her latest book, PULSE, a tale of  apocalyptic suspense, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America!”