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7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

Last week, I tweeted a call for writers and readers to share their 2023 achievements. It was heartening to read accomplishments like countless books devoured, festivals attended, stories embraced by literary magazines, the birth of new genres, and the thrill of publication.

Yet, amidst the triumphs, some candidly confessed their apprehension, unable to muster the courage for that inaugural draft or grappling with rejection after taking the plunge.

Inspired by these narratives, I reached out to editors for insights, seeking valuable advice for novice writers. Even seasoned writers may glean a gem or two from their perspectives. There’s also advice from our own managing editor at Farafinabooks. Enjoy!!!

  1. Be patient with yourself: 
image 1 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

Failure is part of the process. You have to flunk to soar high. When you receive inevitable rejections, please, cry, talk to friends, go for a walk, and go back to the damn drawing board, sit down, and write!

  1. Read submissions guidelines:
image 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

Please format your pieces according to the magazine’s specifics. Never send a blank email. Editors read hundreds of submissions and could reject yours for a formatting error. Here, the little things matter most. Also, rejections are not a reflection of you or your writing. Sometimes, magazines have strict guidelines on what kind of fiction they publish and their length. This is why you must pay special attention. Read pieces published by the mag to get a feel of the kind of fiction, poetry or nonfiction they publish, and determine if yours is a good fit. If yes, submit away. If not, consider shopping around for a mag that’s a better fit. Best of luck! Remember to edit & harmonise the tenses.

  1. Own your craft
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One advice for writers sending their first drafts to lit mags is to learn to craft bios or cover pages that convey assuredness as best as possible. Confident-sounding, well-written, truthful bio pages usually convince editors that there’s tremendous worth in the submission, even if this isn’t so. The better written the cover pages, the greater your chances of getting accepted. Yank off the “aspiring” and “hopeful” derivatives. Own your craft and be confident about it. 

  1. Don’t lose your originality.
image 4 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

I have only one piece of advice: to READ the magazines you’re sending your work to. You don’t want to be the kind of writer to send adult fiction to a magazine with teenage readers. It’s essential to do one’s homework, and not doing that shows proof that the writer is lazy.

Read the magazine, get familiar with the works of others who have written for the magazine, feel the tone, and be well acquainted with what the magazine requires and what they like to show. That will not just increase the chances of being accepted but will also help you know what magazines to send your works to, and that will save you so much time. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean losing your originality and trying to mimic writers who have written for the magazine, but it helps you understand and be in tune with the general essence of the magazine. 

  1. Be your own editor.
image 6 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

An awareness of language is also an awareness of grammar: the workings of verbs, adjectives, nouns, and alliterative devices in language. The question is how to make language say precisely what you want to say. The only way to do this is 1) a thorough knowledge of the language and 2) a sceptical awareness of the difficulty of perfection. The second point allows you to be your own unrelenting critic and editor. You must always ask questions about your writing.

Consider that you wrote the sentence:

She walked out of the door.

You must ask yourself what you meant by this sentence. Is it the literal meaning of a woman dragging her bodily frame from the interior of a house to the exterior? Is it the contextual meaning of “walking out the door”, leaving a thing or situation because she is unhappy? Then again, is it a double entendre? Do you mean to convey both meanings? Good editing—arranging words correctly—will help you convey your exact intent.

  1.  Just write
image 5 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

I’d say write. As cliché as this might sound, just write, don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about being as good as others. Simply tell the story you want to tell. You can figure out how to tell the story properly after you’ve written your first draft. I also don’t think you should send out your first draft. 

It’s important that you sit with your writing, take a break from it and let it breathe, then come back to it with fresh eyes. There’s a familiarity that occurs when you write that makes it hard for you to be an excellent editor of your own work. So if you have an editor or friends who read, give it to them to suggest ways your story can be better or leave it for about three days and return to it, you will definitely see something you could rewrite or rework.

  1. Celebrate small wins 
image 2 7 Editors Share Their Advice to Newbie Writers 

Now that you’ve made the fantastic decision to share your stories and submit to magazines, it’s crucial to recognise that you’ve already taken the first and perhaps the most significant step – stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember, each submission marks progress, and the journey is just as valuable as the destination. Customise your submissions to magazines that align with your unique voice, and be sure to celebrate every small triumph on this creative adventure. Rejections are mere bumps in the road, offering chances to learn and grow. Stay patient, nurture that optimistic spirit, and embrace the exciting possibilities that lie ahead in your writing journey.


That brings us to the conclusion of this piece. I recommend exploring our short story collections: It Wasn’t Exactly Love and A Handful of Dust. These stories emerged from the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop in 2012 and 2013.

As of today, the writers showcased in these collections have flourished in their respective domains. They stand as living proof that you should trust in your abilities and start writing!

About the Writer: Precious Obiabunmo is a graduate of English and Literature at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She’s the Digital Content/Community Manager at Kachifo Limited. Connect with her on LinkedIn

2 Responses

  1. “It’s important that you sit with your writing, take a break from it and let it breathe, then come back to it with fresh eyes.” Thank you, Roseline. And to others, thank you, too.

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