March 28, 2011
A Magazine Editor’s Pet Peeves
As I get older, I find myself letting go a lot easier. I don’t get mad so quickly and for so long.
But, as an editor, there are some things I feel I will never understand. Here’s my list of pet peeves from years in the magazine publishing business.
Pet Peeve #1. Photographers asking how many photos we plan to print prior to shooting
Listen, I get it. You don’t want to waste your time shooting memory card after memory card if we’re only going to print a handful of shots. I don’t want to waste your time either. I don’t pay you enough to waste your time. But asking me how many photos I plan on using is basically saying, “What’s the minimum numbers photos I need to shoot and submit for the story?” or “How little do I have to work to get this job done?” In fairness, I don’t know how many photos we are going to print. If the shots are amazing and I have enough pages, I’m going to utilize as many photos as possible; but if I get my pages slashed or the photos don’t come out as well as we hope, then I can’t accommodate too many photos. Bottom line: I don’t know the answer until I receive all the shots, and the more amazing ones that get submitted, the more likely I am to print a large quantity.
Pet Peeve #2. Photographers asking if they only need to shoot a vertical or horizontal shot
Yes, I do try to understand this as well. Setting up a vertical shot versus a horizontal one are two different things and require two different set ups of lights, etc., and time. But this pet peeve kind of goes back to pet peeve #1 and the minimal amount of effort put into an assignment. And, again, I don’t know ahead of time if I’m going to print a vertical or horizontal.
Pet Peeve #3. Photographers telling me shooting XYZ is not possible
Show me it’s not possible, that’s all I ask. If my shot list for a story on marine life includes photographing a dolphin at the local aquarium and the dolphin no longer is housed there, just take a quick shot from your phone to physically show me the animal isn’t there anymore. I’m not there, so I don’t know that Snowflake isn’t there today. Telling me something isn’t possible could be interpreted as “I don’t feel like doing it.”
Pet Peeve #4. Not getting off the hook for a typo when writing an e-mail
Again, I get it. If you’re a professional surgeon operating on me or my family members, I don’t expect you to mess up. But comparing surgery to misspelling a word or two in an e-mail (or my blog) is definitely an apples-to-oranges comparison. Sometimes I think people are proud when they find a typo or mistake in my e-mails/blogs. It’s like, “Ah-ha! A mistake! Let me point it out, highlight it and point it out to her and everyone else.” Undoubtedly I should be held to a higher standard when it comes to writing; but I’m human and I make mistakes. Just like everyone else, I write e-mails quickly and usually as I’m doing 53 other things. I hate making mistakes and being careless – it’s just bad practice and sloppy. And when it comes to e-mails and blogs, I try to proofread them, but sometimes I don’t catch my own error upon my quick read-through. I don’t expect Kobe to make every single shot, don’t expect Greg Jennings to catch every ball, definitely don’t think Phil’s going to sink every putt, and don’t think Nadal’s never going to commit an unforced error.
Pet Peeve #5. Not knowing the facts about our magazine before you call or e-mail
Once, a PR consultant thought our magazine was based in Titusville… 200 miles north of where we actually are located. Another time, someone called our magazine a rival mag’s name, thinking we were the same company. Um, no.
Pet Peeve #6. Writers not willing to re-research or rewrite a story.
Let’s be honest: Writers have egos. I’m a writer, and I sure as hell have an ego. But I’m also an editor so I see a story a different way than a typical writer would. I’m willing to work with you if you’re willing to work with me. I come at it from a third-person approach and studying loads of awesome narratives. I really enjoy language, syntax, a writer’s voice and style. So if I’m asking you to rewrite one of your pieces, it’s because I’m just trying to push you to find your voice or to get better clarity on a sentence or two. It’s not because I want you to rewrite just to rewrite. Surprisingly there’s a method to my madness. Not much method, but some.
Pet Peeve #7. Editors trashing other magazines
Seriously? There’s a lot that goes into putting a magazine together, and trashing other magazines about their work and product is just not cool. First off, it’s all subjective. What I might think is great, someone else might not. It’s like a hair stylist trashing another stylist’s work. There are just some no-no’s in the business, and being rude about another publication’s quality and work is one of them.