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ABC Checklist 5


Professionalism | The ABC Checklist for New Writers

This the fourth of six extracts from The ABC Checklist for New Writers: How to Open Doors and Get Noticed the First Time Around by Lorraine Mace and Maureen Vincent-Northam, published by Orana Publishing at £10.99. This useful book gives succinct answers to the many problems writers face, making it an indispensable reference for the budding writer.



Editors like to work with professional writers, that is, writers who conduct themselves in a professional way. If you come across as an amateur, you’ll sabotage any chance of seeing your work in print.

In publishing, deadlines are sacrosanct, so it’s imperative to deliver work on time, or ahead of schedule, if possible. Take care to get it as good as it can be before you submit. Once the editor has your article, spotting errors or omissions, and having to send him corrections, looks unprofessional and could reflect badly on you.

Accept rejections with good grace. Every writer is disappointed when their work is turned down, but, no matter how angry you feel when a rejection lands in your inbox, never fire off an irate email in reply.

Don’t ask how much you’ll be paid for writing a feature before it has even been commissioned. If your idea is accepted, you will be told the fee, and if you consider it isn’t going to be worth your while, decline politely.

Keep your standards high and deliver your best work on every project, not just the better paid assignments. Situations within the publishing world change rapidly, and opportunities can arise for trusted freelances when editors have new projects in mind, or move on to magazines with higher budgets.

Be patient, and don’t hassle the editor for a response to a query the day after you’ve sent it.

Send in your invoice promptly, with a clear statement of the relevant details. Don’t ask for payment on acceptance, if their usual practice is to pay on publication.



Because it’s easier and quicker to communicate electronically, there’s a temptation to whisk off emails to our professional contacts in the same way we might to family and friends. But it’s important to take the same care and attention when communicating with editors by email as you would when writing and posting letters to them in the traditional way.

Things to do:


1. Do include your contact details on every email

2. Do use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial

3. Do use a spellchecker to pick up errors

4. Do proofread before sending, to pick up grammatical bloomers

5. Do use a blank line to separate paragraphs

6. Do ensure the subject line is explanatory and not spamlike

Things not to do:


1. Don’t write in coloured text

2. Don’t type entirely in capital letters

3. Don’t use smiley faces or acronyms like LOL

4. Don’t use abbreviated ‘text speak’

5. Don’t send attachments without first checking with the recipient

6. Don’t be too informal and ‘matey’

To summarise:


• Deliver material on time

• Don’t talk money before being commissioned

• Ensure standards are high on every project

• Keep email communication businesslike

This extract is published by kind permission of Orana Publishing.

© Lorraine Mace and Maureen Vincent-Northam

The ABC Checklist For New Writers

1: Agents - when and how to approach them
2: Editors - who they are and what they do
3: Keeping Records
5: Professionalism
6: Titles

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Preparing for Publication