I once worked with an editor who was quite frank with me. After a couple of successes and failures, I came to realize that editors love to accept articles and make writers shine. The hardest part of their job is rejecting articles. However, editorial standards are governed by strict guidelines which help to make the difference when they have many articles to choose from.

Rejection is part and parcel of the art and craft of writing. However, you as a writer should know for sure why your piece was rejected, especially when you want to improve your writing. One or a combination of the following reasons can provide a sufficient cause for rejection.

Too technical. Many publications prefer a fluent, non-technical prose unless the piece is based on a research activity or academic dissertation. However, this does not mean that you severely limit your vocabulary. A good writing style makes the difference.

Too limited to one culture. If you are submitting to an international publication, limiting your work to one culture can severely reduce your chances of getting hired. Therefore, the content of your piece should be appealing to as many cultures as possible. Keep in mind never to use any phrase or word that might be mystifying to any of your targeted readership.

Not for our audience. Let me put it his way: not everyone eats everything, but at least there is something for everyone. So it is with writing. Curve out your niche so you can have a specific target audience. Knowing your audience is one of the major steps to getting hired as a writer.

Too broad, lacks focus. Editors are usually concerned about the quality of their publications. With the stiff competition in the market, they make sure to erase any aspect that may make their client ditch their paper for something else. If you are just wandering in the wilderness without a clear direction to go, you are creating a slot for rejection.

Too long or too short. Editors rarely accept articles longer than 4000 words. They prefer 1,500-2000 words. Nonetheless, they work best with specific word count in their respective guidelines. To increase your chances of getting published, learn to reduce the work load of your editor by writing within the suggested word count. It is against this backdrop that you need to study carefully the writers’ guidelines before you submit.

Not interested in this subject at the moment. Editors count on writers who can submit timely articles which can find space in the competitive market. For this reason, some editors provide subject calendar for the contributions to know. As a writer you should also be able to browse the market to come up with something worthwhile depending on your area of specialization.

© Tony Philip Oreso is a freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya

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