Get Tough On Yourself and Write with a Point

An editor within the agency I write with rejected an article I wrote and submitted recently. I've had them rejected before, but usually, the editor has pointed to corrections needed. 

This time, the editor's words were piercing:

"You failed to deliver on the article's title.
Do not resubmit."

Wow. That hurt. Surely I could change the title. I'm certain something could be reworked. And, by the way, isn't it up to a client to decide if it is buyer-worthy or not?

So the idea that I failed to deliver on the article title's promise hit me. I didn't take the editor where they felt they would go. 

This was one article I just wanted to get submitted without letting it simmer longer. I didn't want to revisit it again after spending so much time on it already. But had I let it simmer, I might have seen the problem for myself and changed it.  

Make Sure Your Writing Delivers 

Literary agents will be sure to tell you problems like this are common. They want to know a book is going to deliver not only on what the title promises but on what the book back or Amazon description promises. They want to know the article they're about to read will give them some new insightful material and answer any question posed in the title or introduction. 

Sounds simple, but time and again authors miss the point. I've purchased self-published books and discovered that for myself. It may be that the book trails off in a new direction. This might happen when an author puts a book aside for a time and when they return, their personal passion, temperature, or mindset is different. 

I've started books only to discover what an author suggests works for all people doesn't work for me. This is so true in those writers who assume everyone has a fulltime job or career like they do. 

Sometimes the problem is a chapter problem. An author gets so attached to a chapter they can't bring themselves to chop it. It gets included but has little relevance to the rest of the book. 

When writing and editing, it's important we write for a target audience. Otherwise, we're merely writing for ourselves and our own fun. 

We can ensure we make a point when we ask ourselves important questions as we're writing such as these: 

  • What's the goal of this article, book, or book chapter?
  • What is the point of this paragraph?
  • Does this story illustrate the point of the chapter?
  • Does this anecdote reflect the book's theme?
  • What conclusion am I urging the reader to draw?
  • Have I enlightened, informed, or inspired the reader?
  • Do the stories I add undergird the theme of the book or simply make the reader feel displaced?
  • Why am I mentioning such-and-such?
  • Does mentioning such-and-such distract from the story?
  • Are my words bossy, preachy, or spoon-feeding the reader?
  • Is this book merely my own catharsis, a way to brag, an attempt to make a quick buck, or does it offer value to the reader?
  • Why would someone pay to read this?

Writing is easy and hard. Good writers get tough on themselves.