FROM PITCHING TO PUBLISHING: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE EDITORIAL PROCESS
Getting your work published can be confusing and every publication has a different editorial process. Wear Your Voice strives to make the experience as clear and easy as possible.
The writing process and the editing process often overlap. However, writers and editors have distinctly different responsibilities in order to make sure that the completed work is at its best and that the journey there is as efficient as possible for everyone involved.
Once your pitch has been accepted, the next step — after writing the piece, of course — is to share a completed draft with your editors. Here are some things that you should keep in mind, both as you are writing that draft and while we are editing it.
As a writer, you are responsible for:
Proofreading your work. First drafts are, by nature, usually not that great. They usually have the kind of silly mistakes that all writers tend to make in their initial attempt to pull something nebulous out of their brain and make it coherent enough for others to read and understand — silly mistakes that a writer will easily notice during a simple overview. This is why you should never send your editor the very first draft of your work. Every writer should get into the habit of self-editing. Not only because it helps make you a better, more attentive writer, but also because it helps the work for editors go much more smoothly. Read over your first draft — look for basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors — and then send the editors your second or even third draft. Editing software like Grammarly and ProWritingAid can help you catch these types of mistakes. However, these programs will not recognize the nuances and rules of styles like AAVE, so you still need to review the work yourself and use your own discretion.
Fact-checking, research, sourcing, and credit. While WYV will double, triple, and quadruple-check to make sure that everything is factually correct, it’s important for writers to understand that it is your responsibility to conduct all necessary research and link to the sources you are referencing in your piece. If you reference another article, a tweet, a video, an Instagram post, etc., provide a link for it. If you are including images, cite the images source(s). If you are discussing a historical icon, a pop culture event, or a particular theory or concept, make sure you research it properly and use accurate sources for news and historical references. If you are quoting another writer or if your work is in conversation with/building on the work of someone else, remember to give credit where it is due.
Including trigger and content warnings. In our pitching guide, we emphasize the need for and importance of trigger/content warnings when pitching about sensitive and traumatizing topics. This practice is just as important when submitting a draft. Editors are people, too — with our own experiences, sensitivities, and traumas. We can and do get triggered or otherwise affected by reading, writing, and editing work about difficult subjects. Our mental health is a priority for us and the work that we do has an impact on it. Writers should always take this into consideration.
Giving spoiler warnings, too. Again, editors are but mere mortals. We, unfortunately, do not have the time, energy, or inclination to watch every film, or read every book, or devour every TV series. When writing about a piece of entertainment, sometimes it is necessary to spoil certain parts of it in order to discuss or engage with a particular theme, scene, or character. In these cases, you should provide spoiler warnings for editors, just as you would for readers.
Paying attention to the word count. We get it. Sometimes, there’s a lot to be said about a particular subject. But part of developing your writing chops is learning how to successfully argue your point both coherently and succinctly. It’s okay if you go a bit over the requested word count, but you should always try your best to get as close to it as possible to what you and the editors have agreed on.
Writing the essay that you pitched. This may seem like an obvious one. But, as you are writing, it’s easy to get carried away. You will almost always stumble on new ideas and make new connections while completing your draft. These are good things. However, you should also be mindful of what you pitched in your initial email because that is what was accepted by the editors. Any new ideas that are included should be there to support your thesis and strengthen your argument, not to make a new argument entirely or go on a tangent. If you discover while writing that your thesis needs to become something different or if you feel you need to discuss different topics from what was originally pitched, just let the editors know so we can be prepared when we receive your completed draft.
Asking for clarification. There are all sorts of different communication styles, even within our editorial team. Things will get misinterpreted or lost in translation. It happens.
As your editors, it is our responsibility to:
Give you honest feedback. When you create something, it’s easy to get tunnel vision about it or get way too attached to certain parts of it. The benefit of working with editors is that we can help you determine which things should stay, which things should be expanded on, which things should take the spotlight, and which things should — respectfully — never see the light of day. No, we will not edit your work down to the bone, and we absolutely will not re-write your piece into something that is unrecognizable from the draft you sent us. What we will do is be honest with you about what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to help you tell your story and present your arguments in a coherent way and in a voice that is still distinctly yours.
Ensure that your piece has the most impact on our readers. We look at narrative, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and adequate sourcing. We also pay close attention to structure, flow, pacing, and emotional impact. As a publication that provides content for LGBTQIA+ Black, Brown, and Indigenous readers, we have a responsibility to ensure that this content — which so often deals with our racialized traumas and experiences with white supremacy — will resonate with our intended audience. This means that, sometimes, we may need your essay to shift its focus somewhat or do more to highlight a particular theme already present. If you are submitting a personal essay, this may involve delving deeper and asking more probing questions than you realized was needed. If you are writing a critical essay, that may mean taking a step back and thinking more intently about certain theories and concepts as they relate the personal, the political, and our communities as a whole. Editors will work with you to help determine the best direction to take and how to get your writing there.
Give the details some polish. While we take suggestions into consideration, we will create headlines and subheadings (mostly, for SEO reasons). We will also create or source feature images, but writers can absolutely include images within their essay. Lastly, we’ll add relevant links and recommended readings to similar work on our site. This is to ensure that things are cohesive across the publication and aligns with our established brand.
Wear Your Voice’s editorial process & additional tips:
WYV edits via Google Docs to ensure a seamless process and simplify communication between writers and editors. We often edit as a team, so you can expect to see edit suggestions and comments from multiple editors.
Our editing process can vary in terms of a timeline. We prioritize time-sensitive pieces and we can sometimes have these published within a few hours after submission, depending on how many edits are needed and when the writer is available to respond to them. More evergreen pieces — meaning the subject matter will always have significant relevancy — can take anywhere from a day or so up to a few weeks to publish, depending on how clean the copy is, how much editing it requires, and how many pieces are scheduled ahead of it on our editorial calendar.
Clean writing will go a long way towards reducing editing and publishing times. Nonetheless, the editing process will almost always take longer than you think it will, especially if you are writing a response to a piece of entertainment media that we will need to familiarize ourselves with before we are able to edit your work with the necessary context.
Be prepared to work through multiple rounds of edits, especially if you are new to writing, and know that it can and sometimes will be a tedious journey. Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than you anticipated. As writers ourselves, we understand how things like anxiety and impostor syndrome can crop up and make you want to quit everything. Just keep going.
Remember that you are not alone. By that, we mean that you are not the only person whose work we are currently editing. As you are going through this process, keep in mind that our modest team of editors is working with multiple writers at once, while also trying to create our own work and attend to our other many responsibilities as the people behind this small publication. Busy editors will appreciate your patience and understanding.