Celebrating East African Writing!


Written by Ismael Makango

Ask any writer to describe how he thinks editors look like and most of them will have this picture of some red – eyed monster with horns on his head and long nails to pounce on any writer who dares send an article idea or a book! If not that, then it is a picture of a long – teethed Dracula waiting to bite any writer’s nose and spit it to the floor any time he dares send him/her a query letter asking if he would be interested.

I am saying this because many writers e-mail me asking how they can break into the magazine and newspaper market and when I advise them to send a query letter together with an outline to the editor; they shrug and decided I’ve pronounced a death sentence to them.

Few weeks ago, a lady – with a strong passion for writing wrote to me asking how she could break into the magazine market and as usual, I gave her tips to writing good outline and query letters and encouraged her to go ahead and submit. Three weeks down the line, she has not made even a single submission; her answer, “I feel already intimidated by editors even before I send anything, but I will try…” Trying to submit is not enough to make you a good writer you want to be; submitting is the sure way to advance your writing career- no short cuts; it is as simple as that. You don’t need to be a professor of actuarial science or a master of approximation and errors to get this right!

It’s only after your work crosses the eyes of a professional that you will understand where to improve or how people view your writing; so if you want to grow as a writer, then you have to get your work out there. Keep submitting one piece after the other – do not look at editors with suspicious eyes.

Editors are not monsters that most writers believe them to be? Not at all! Editors are human beings – in blood and flesh – just like you. They breathe like you do, motivated or provoked by the same things that provoke you. You can feel their skin – they are tangible and live in the same planet with you. They have the same things you have as a human being and behave in the same way all other human beings behave.


Then why do most writers fear them…


You will notice that I have deliberately used the word “MOST WRITERS” and not “ALL WRITERS” this is because editors would hardly be friendly to unprofessional writers – and do not get me wrong here! When I say professional, I do not mean, that man in a graduation gown, standing on the graduation podium with clean specs on his eyes, waiting to receive a PhD in literature – probably his ninth degree – or something! I simply mean writers who obey the rules set.

Crowns without brains are useless. You have to master the game inside out and learn how to obey the rules; otherwise I am not sure that there is any editor out there ready to publish your degrees and graduation gowns in their newspaper or magazine spaces.

Some writers are determined to defy even simple rules written in bold black and white and then when their work is rejected by editors, they decide to hang the “monster” tag on their faces, calling them devils’ agents out to destroy their writing career. These are the same writers that spend years mark timing in the quagmire of “Most Writers” who view editors as monsters.

All they have known in their entire life are rejections from editors and they believe nothing good can come from editors than rejections.

On the other hand, there are writers who have learned the rules, studied their target market and mastered the game. They know exactly what editors need and they will give them exactly that. These are writers who have the real pictures of who editors are – because they have build good working relationship and trust.

The truth is that editors are hungry for ideas and will jump on any good idea that shows up. But this does not mean they are desperate to a point of picking any trash that land on their table. I guess if they were editing for their personal consumption, then perhaps they would publish anything and every that they come across. But not in this case, they have to care about their readers – they know that their readers are choosy and that they have to offer them good material, else they will look for it elsewhere. That is why you too, as a writer, have to research on what writers like reading before pitching your idea to the editor – that way, it will be easy. You have to be professional if you want any editor to take you serious!


Incase of any question, drop me an e-mail at


One comment on “EDITORS = MONSTERS?

  1. Nyawira
    February 14, 2011

    Thanks for hitting the nail on the head, I agree with you .The problem is not the editors but the writers who hardly obey the rules set for them.


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