Repeat after me: Editors are people, just like me.
Seriously. The only superpower an editor possesses is the power to reject your submission. Other than that, he or she is just as human as you or I. No matter how saintly an editor may feel on any given day, you can pretty much bet they don’t have time (nor the masochistic tendencies) to deal with high-maintenance writers. It is in your best interest not to be labeled as one.
So, how can you avoid it? Look for these warning signs.
You might be a high-maintenance writer if…
…you cannot wait for an editor to respond to your submission. You suffer a compulsion to call, email, and stake out your editor’s favorite coffee haunt and pester him mercilessly. Before you email for the third time today, stop, take a deep breath and focus on something new. Make an outline, write a blog about anticipation, go for a walk. Patience is a virtue.
…you disregard rules, because, yanno, they don’t really apply to you because you are speshul. If the guidelines say 3k words, don’t submit 5k and hope for the best. The only thing that will get you is a black mark beside your name.
…you miss deadlines. Deadlines have the trickle-down effect. When you miss a deadline, the person next in line in the production schedule (in this case, your editor) is likely to miss a deadline. Followed by a missed deadline in the art department… etc. All of this adds stress to your editor’s life. Stress=bad. You do not want your name to become synonymous with stress.
…you argue with a rejection. I can’t believe the number of stories I have heard from editors about this one. Really, people? When an editor says no, it means they cannot use whatever you’ve submitted. If they’ve been kind enough to point out problems with your work, the appropriate response (EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE) is “Thank you for pointing that out.” My Southern-born friend once told me something her mother said whenever they had guests, and I think it applies here. “Be kind if you can; be charming if it kills you.”
Before you interact with your editor, ask yourself this one important question: If our roles were reversed, how would I react to what I’m thinking about doing?
If you would react negatively, trust me, the editor will, too.