Monday, January 03, 2005

Devil In the Details

As an editor and a writer, I've learned the truth of the saying, "The Devil is in the Details." If you run an amazing article in your magazine yet spell someone's name wrong, that's what you are going to hear about. The details are important.

Whether I'm writing a query letter or producing a newsletter, I want to make sure the format is right. I don't want to use some strange typeface or misspell the name of the editor. Many times in the last few years, I've received query letters or cover letters to manuscripts addressed to Ms. Terry Whalin. I understand Terry is a name which can be male or female (it happens to be a last name in my family tree). As the writer and editor, it's my responsibility to get these details right--so if you need to call an editorial assistant to check the spelling of a name or find out whether to use Mr. or Ms., then invest the energy--to get these details right.

Another element I think about is the title or headline. I want to make sure I have a short, attractive, punchy headline for my articles or title for my book manuscript. The editor will recognize whether you've made this type of effort or not. I've learned if I have a catchy title for my book manuscripts, often it will be used on the printed book. Because I've been a book editor, I understand the publisher controls the title for the book or the magazine article--yet at the same time, I know that if I have a great title, the editor will use it. Michael Green has some great reasons that people read newsletters or don't read them in this article. As I put together a newsletter or a query or any other type of writing, it's always good to take one last look at it--to check the details (pagination, title or headline, typeface, use of bold, italics, underline, etc. and finally to make sure you've included all the necessary information). You'd be surprised at the number of submissions I've received where the person has obviously found my address online--yet not included an email addresses or SASE for a response.

The most difficult aspect to proofread or see is something that is missing. It's always worth one more look before you hit that send button.

1 Comment:

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Marcia Lee Laycock Left a note...

Hi Terry - good to find you here at Blogspot. I appreciated this message and agree completely. In fact I had an experience lately that can attest to it. I entered a short story contest (launched at Dave Long's blog - www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com
After sending the story in, I received a good critique on it, so swallowed my pride and asked Dave if I could resubmit. He graciously said yes - and awarded me first place in the contest! So I guess it was worth it, but it did make me realize I have to be a little more reluctant to hit 'send.' :)Marcia Laycock


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