Writers: Simple Ways to Make Your Editors Happy

When I was a managing editor of a magazine a few years ago, one of our regular writers submitted articles every issue without typing his byline at the top. That meant I had to do it myself, remembering how he spelled his name each time.

I reminded him more than once to include his name, but he rarely did. I was working at a custom media agency, and my client liked this writer or I probably would have stopped using him. Let me repeat that: I wanted to fire a writer because he could not follow simple directions to write his name on his paper (didn’t we learn this in third grade?).

With so much competition out there, it’s important for writers to make editors’ jobs easy. You may be able to weave a compelling story, but so can many other freelance writers. So go the extra mile. Make your editors’ jobs as easy as you can, and you will build solid, long-term relationships with them.

A woman sits at a desk typing on a laptop keyboard, with a coffee mug in the background.

Here are five simple ways to make your editors happy:

  1. Include your byline, and if the magazine runs author bios, include your bio also.
  2. Write headlines, deks and subheads. Your editor might change them later, but making suggestions—or even just showing where a subhead should go—is an extra step that helps editors.
  3. Include source contact information. This can be helpful to staff later for fact-checking or photography requests. Even if your editor provided source information, as membership associations often do, it can sometimes be helpful, particularly if you obtained a different email address or phone number than what was provided.
  4. Ask for sources’ birthdays. Many feature articles include ages, but sources may have a birthday between the time you interviewed them and the time the article is published. I always ask for birth dates so I know what age to include in the article. And I update my editor if the article is delayed and a birthday happens during that time.
  5. Do a self-edit. Not everyone is a copy editor, and you won’t catch all mistakes in your own writing. But you should do—at minimum— a final spellcheck. In addition, always doublecheck people’s names and job titles. In journalism school, getting a name wrong was an automatic “F,” and that type of mistake still leaves a pit in my stomach. Get names right.

Taking a few extra minutes to truly finalize your draft before you email it to your editor shows that you are dependable and not sloppy. Go the extra mile and continue to build strong freelance relationships with your editors.

Writers, what else do you do to finalize your draft for your editor?



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