A note about revise notes (from editors)
After you email your story to the editor, don’t be discouraged if the editor asks to change a few things around. Although it’s nice when you can just turn in your article and get paid for it, most features go through at least one set of revise notes.
When your editor calls or emails with questions and requests, think twice before arguing. Don’t fall so in love with your article that you lose flexibility. After all, it’s the magazine’s article, too. Unless the requested changes make the messege incorrect, try to comply and get the changes back to the editor as soon as possible. But when you’re writing about health and topics, you really need to make sure the editorial changes don’t change the meaning. Your editors may know publishing, but they’re probably not medical experts. Even if you’re not either, it’s up you to find out. As one of my medical experts used to say, make sure you’re not inventing medicine.
Even after you’ve answered all the questions and made the requested changes, the editor will often make more changes before it goes to print. Editors do this for lots of reasons. Sometimes the changes add clarity. A good editor will catch inconsistencies of style and actually improve your piece. Although not always the case, this is usually good for you and can be a valuable learning experience. Some editors just want to pee on your piece to make it theirs. Unfortunately, they have the final say.
Sometimes a certain magazine’s style calls for every article to have the same voice, not the voice of individual writers. This can be discouraging to writers who pride themselves on having a great voice and style of their own. A common reason for the changes is to make your piece fit the space available. As writers, we sometimes joke that our articles are just the stuff that keeps the ads from sticking together. These changes will occur at the very last minute, so you may not know until you see it on the newsstands.
Of course, by then you will have already been paid for your work and on to other stories. When I got my first check in the mail for my first article, I wanted to frame it. I still get excited when I get checks in the mail for doing what I love. All writers do.
I think it was Dorothy Parker who said, “The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘Check Enclosed.’”
Happy Health Writing,