Top 5 Writer Pet Peeves

pupby Catherine L. Tully

As a freelance writer you hear a lot about the pet peeves that editors have. The thing is…we have them too. I chose this photo for the post because I have actually felt like the poor puppy in the window after working on an especially difficult article. So for the heck of it, I thought I’d post my top 5 pet peeves. Please, writers, feel free to chime in with your own after reading mine…

#5. Unclear direction. I have absolutely no problems working really hard, but just please, tell me what you are looking for. There is nothing worse than getting little to no direction on the front end of a project, only to get a ton of negative feedback after you have completed it, along with a request for multiple changes. Please–I can follow instructions–save us both some time…

#4. Payment issues. If I am expected to be on time with my work, please make sure you are on time with your payment. Everyone makes mistakes, but repeated issues with getting compensated for work that I have already completed is totally uncool.

#3. The non-answer. I understand that the market is going this way now, but I really don’t like it. When I send in a well thought-out query and hear nothing back, it is demoralizing. If I have not done my work, have sent you something that is off base for your publication or have insulted you in some way–fine. But if I have come close or you just can’t use my work right now, can you just let me know? I know you are busy. So am I…and I just spent hours researching and crafting this query.

#2. The non-answer. Did I say that already? Yes I did. And I’m saying it again, but for a different reason. If you hire me, or accept a query I have sent–please don’t ignore my questions or make me e-mail you repeatedly. I feel like a total pest and nag and I’m just trying to make sure that I am doing what you want. And if I ask you three questions, please answer all three. Otherwise I’ll just have to ask you again. It’s embarassing.

#1.  Changes. First of all, I have no problem with you making changes to improve the piece I wrote. If you can make me sound better, why should I complain? After all, you know your readership better than I do. That said, please don’t change quoted material that a source gave me during an interview or completely shift the idea of my article without checking in with me. My name is on it.

This post would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of all of the wonderful editors I have had the opportunity to work with over the years. They are truly worth their weight in gold as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been lucky to have had more good experiences than bad ones, but I’ve had my share of issues along the way. I guess editors aren’t the only ones with pet peeves!

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