July 23, 2012

Letting Work Die, All Yellow

As nonfiction editor for Stories for Children Magazine, I keep a log of all submissions.  The log is divided into months and each submission is color-coded.  Green is for a Phase I acceptance, blue is for a Phase II acceptance, and magenta is for the most-sought after Phase III acceptance.

More colors describe various points in the submission process.  Orange means the submission is still being considered.  Red is for rejection (there aren’t too many of these!) and yellow means that a Phase I or II acceptance is likely if some edits are made. 

As I glance at my log, I have many green, blue, and magenta submissions.  But I have way too many yellow submissions, the ones that need just a little editing.  And yet, most of these submissions have remained yellow for months.  Many writers don't revise and re-submit.

The yellow-highlighted submissions have promise, and I’d like to see them published. But if a writer refuses to edit, then it's a waste of time for the both of us—the author has spent time researching and writing the piece and I have spent time reading the submission and making thoughtful suggestions.

Editing is an important part of writing for children.  Most of the suggestions I make are easy to implement.  I might ask to correct grammar.  Or, I might like to see another source.  So it's hard to conceive why anyone would walk away from work that was once deemed worthy of submission.  It's a shame letting a submission "die" all yellow on my log.

1 comment:

Ruth Donnelly said...

So interesting to hear about how you keep track of submissions! I keep a similar color-coding record of my own stories to indicate on sub, first rights sold, all rights sold, rejected, and so forth. Mine is adapted from the one on Evelyn Christensen's website.