What Are Editors Looking For?

The growth of the internet as a publishing outlet has offered many writers the opportunity to share their stories in ways that were not possible before; however, this gift can be a double-edged sword. Because of the proliferation of content online, it’s easy for a writer’s voice to be drowned out by other voices producing content on the same topics.

At hope*writers, we want the words you publish to stand out from the rest, so we sat down with experienced editor Stephanie Smith for a conversation about what she looks for in a writer.

She offers the following tips to help you go from writer to author by refining your ideas for a word-saturated market. 

Choose an Angle

Universal topics such as family relationships, vulnerability, coping with anxiety, and personal growth continue to resonate with readers, regardless of how many writers explore these subjects. Stephanie urges us to follow the poet Emily Dickinson’s advice: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” The way you view the world — your slant is your unique angle on a topic. 

While you may explore similar themes as your fellow writers, it’s how you tell your story that will differentiate and set you apart. As an editor, Stephanie says, “We’re always looking for what’s fresh and what sparks old and familiar truth in a new light. To me, that’s an angle.” 

 This unique angle is the beating heart behind your best writing.


Develop Your Unique Perspective

When we tell our story slant, our particular viewpoint sparks a fresh perspective on a broader truth in readers. When we craft our words with attention to our unique angle, readers take notice and pay attention. 

 One way to further develop your angle is to read work from writers who explore the same themes as you do. At first, this may feel counterintuitive, and you may fear you’ll discover that all the good words have already been said. But when you read widely, you will begin to identify similarities and differences between what others have written and what you want to say, which will help you recognize what’s missing from the current dialogue on a subject. 

Stephanie encourages writers to speak into this missing element based on their unique experiences. Identify what your voice adds to a particular topic, and pursue it in your writing.

Engage in Powerful Storytelling

How memorable is your writing? Your angle helps determine if readers remember your stories. Stephanie encourages us to engage in the kind of writing that people scribble onto sticky notes writing that seeps into the everyday life of the reader. 

She believes the success of a book always begins with the content, and she urges writers to focus on the craft of writing even in the early stages of developing an idea. One way you can invest in your storytelling is to devote yourself to a few classic books on writing, where you can learn by immersion and example. 

If you commit to reading widely, practicing your craft, and developing your slant, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the writer editors want to champion and readers want to read.

Our conversation with Stephanie is a member favorite as she shares so many helpful tips and offers a beautiful perspective on what editors are really looking for. Click here for free access to our hour-long conversation with  Stephanie and take one step toward balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.


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