You’ve finished your story or novel. You have researched, written, rewritten, critiqued, spell-checked, agonized over sentences, characters, paragraphs, scenes and whole chapters. You have used all your tricks and exhausted all your abilities and skills in making it the best possible manuscript. You think there is nothing more you can do. So where does it go now? What do you do with it?
Will it get accepted by an editor? Or will it end up in junk mail?
Publishers have different ideas on why to accept a piece of writing or manuscript for publication. What qualities do editors look for in an article, story or a manuscript?
“A distinct voice, unique access or a unique way of thinking and approaching a subject- that is, something I can get from no other writer. Give an editor a good reason to assign an article to you.” Michael Boodro
“First off, I instantly assess the professional qualities of the manuscript. It is typed and double-spaced? Is it spelled correctly? Punctuated correctly? Does it look dog-eared and tired? Then I look at the “hook.” Does it draw me in instantly? If so, I read the first few pages. If they continue to interest me, I finish.” Shawna McCarthy
“A certain immediacy and directness. I like what I call grab-them-by-the-lapels writing. Make some magic.” Patricia Mulcahy
“The emotional depth of the characters.” Tracy Farell
“Individuality- in the observations found in his or her writing samples, in the writing style, in the point of view. I always look for writers who have a strong “voice.” But this individuality of style is important after the many other basic considerations have been assessed (such as: experience, thoroughness of research; command of grammar, spelling and punctuation; ability to meet deadlines; strong sense of journalistic ethics; etc.)” Mark Orwell
“Enthusiasm. I want writers who are hungry to write their stories.” Keith Farell
“A new tale to tell or a new way of telling an old one. No matter what genre you write in, it’s the writing voice that makes any one book stand apart from any other, and a new and different voice is a valuable thing.” Betsy Mitchell
“The story must make me think about it long after I put it down.” Lois Rosenthal
“In the case of fiction, I will know within the space of a paragraph, or less, if the manuscript has been written by a writer or someone simply writing. Very much like being able to tell if someone knows how to play the piano or not- impossible to fake. Whether you’re dealing with a Horowitz or a Liberace is another question altogether.” Timothy
“Do I feel that I’m in the hands of a master from the opening line onward? The market is so glutted that we simply won’t settle for “hack” or “professional” writers- we really look for the inspired, instinctive writers who will take commercial or genre fiction to new heights.” Wendy McCurdy