Do you have a great idea to share with pre-K through 12th-grade teachers or school leaders? If so, you should consider submitting a pitch to Edutopia. If the pitch is accepted, you’ll work with an editor, and at first, the editorial process can seem intimidating, with the fear of rejection and concern about losing your voice. To help prospective writers better understand the process, here are a few ideas based on my experience working with Edutopia editors.
Explore Your Perception of Editing
The way you perceive editing impacts the editorial process. Take a moment to explore how you see it. How do you differentiate editing from proofreading? Would you define a successful editing experience based on the number of comments, the turnaround time, or the feedback style?
What editor assumptions (such as “The best editors must…”) or writer bias (such as “I have a terminal degree—I don’t need an editor”) could potentially cloud your relationship? How comfortable are you with reworking your submission (such as rewriting or omitting components of your original idea) to address feedback?
Understand That the Process Takes Time
Be aware that the edit-to-publish process may take up to four to six weeks. First, a writer is matched with an editor. Take the time and initiative to learn about the editing process. Review websites that share tips on working with editors, such as The Write Life, Writer’s Digest, and The Writing Cooperative.
Next, the writer is given about two weeks to develop the first draft. Keep in mind, two or more rounds of back-and-forth draft revisions are possible. It takes time for the editor to compile the feedback and additional time for you to respond. As you revise, be sure to communicate any writing schedule considerations (such as time restrictions or any concerns with meeting the editor’s suggested deadlines).
Be mindful of heavier submission and editing workload periods (times when teachers are out of the classroom such as holiday breaks, spring break, or summer break). If your pitch is accepted during these times, the edit-to-publish process may require a bit more time and patience.
Learn the Communication Process
Edutopia has a team of editors. Writers communicate primarily with one assigned editor. To build a relationship, ideally, you are given the same editor each time you participate in the editorial process. The editor offers recommendations based on their writing experience, professional experience, and knowledge of what is helpful to the anticipated audience.
Writers receive questions, comments, and a rationale for most writing adjustment suggestions (see the sections below for details). Most communication is provided via Google Docs so that draft changes are highlighted, saved, and shared easily throughout the process. Some communication is via email (notification that an updated draft has been reviewed or notification of a potential publication date).
Know the Communication Style of Editors
An editor’s goal is to help develop your post. The wish to collaborate is reflected via their communication style.
To establish a partnership, editors often use “we” when referring to revision needs (such as “We also may want to include…”). Suggestions are encouraging (such as “Let’s think of ways to…” or “It’s OK to mention…”). Also, questions are nonthreatening (such as “I wonder if…” or “Are you talking about ___ or ___?”). The editor acknowledges your efforts with positive messages (such as “This looks good” or “Thanks for a great draft”). And editors are willing to examine a difference of opinion when a writer disagrees about a proposed change.
Be Familiar With the Types of Edits
Developmental editing: Editing involves shaping ideas. One focus is writing organization (considering when and how information is presented). Another focus is clarity (using active voice, simple words, and specificity).
Here are examples of editing suggestions I’ve received related to organization and clarity:
- Add short definitions to explain terminology.
- Provide context to supply needed background information.
- Add examples to provide detail.
- Include one or more professional resources/links to support ideas.
- Adjust section headings (the names or the number of headings) to be clear and actionable.
Copyediting: After the editor and writer have finalized the content, the draft is copyedited (checking facts, checking hyperlinks, examining grammar, etc.) and reviewed by Edutopia’s executive editor. As this is the final step, the writer should not expect to see copyedit-related changes prior to the post’s publication on the Edutopia website.
Consider Helpful Resources
Here are four related resources for writing for Edutopia and learning how to work with an editor:
- Your Turn: Write for Us: A series of guidelines on how to propose an idea to Edutopia, plus examples of ideas that have been accepted.
- TLRC Translational Research Episode I: Writing for the Educator Audience: A podcast interview with Edutopia’s executive editor, Tom Berger, that focuses on tips for developing ideas into action-oriented blog articles.
- Picking Editors: What Do You Need From Your Editor: A snapshot of specific skills that editors contribute to writing projects.
- What Authors and Editors Wish They Could Say to One Another: A post that includes considerations for effective editor-writer communication. Although the information targets book writing, the information still applies to online publications such as Edutopia.