I have both written and edited for multiple magazines and websites in the past four years. Every online publication has a different editorial process. At one point, I lead a magazine writing internship program, in which the whole point of having a team of writers was to teach them how to write. Our feedback system was strict, detailed and educational.
I loved it. The majority of writers who went through the program found it helpful, because we had a team of editors who were responsible for helping writers correct their own mistakes and learn how to write better articles.
Serving as an editor in the “real world” was a major wake-up call for me. Almost every editorial process was, to me, cut extremely short. Writers submit their work. I go through one round of edits on each article before I publish it. That’s it.
I’m not given the time (paid hours) to give feedback to our writers even as a group. So every single week, I correct the same exact mistakes in each writer’s work. Not a single one of them has improved from week to week. The quality of writing isn’t awful – but it’s not great. And my biggest frustration is knowing that I cannot help them, even though that’s why I got into editing in the first place.
Online publishing is usually not a mentorship. Each party wants something from the other, but time and resources are limited – because writers want to have their name on something and/or make money, and websites need content or THEY can’t make money.
A writer wants their work published. So they submit their work anywhere that will allow it.
Site owners want things published on their platforms. Yet making money through online advertising is enough of a nightmare – paying full-time editors is not an option.
So while the submission and publishing process for that site might be easier for both the writer and the site owner, the quality of whatever ends up getting published is often fair, at best.
And if it’s good, it’s often because whatever editorial process that piece of writing goes through often involves changing it from the original piece, without the original writer’s input.
A writer can’t usually improve without feedback. They can, a little, by reading and writing on their own. But it’s very difficult for writers to pinpoint their own weaknesses.
Websites will not hire full-time editors who will take each article or essay submission through a multi-step editorial process. It’s too expensive, apparently.
A writer, therefore, does not get detailed feedback on their work, even if it does get published. It either gets published or submissions fall into the void.
So a writer, not knowing any better, will continue making the same mistakes over and over again. They might get published wherever they can, but without guidance, it isn’t very likely they will improve as drastically over time.
Normally, I would say, “This is just how the business works.” But I say that too much. I’m really tired of it. I’m tired of settling.
One of the most common questions I get from writers relates to feedback – how can they get it? Will I look over their stuff? Everyone wants free feedback. Everyone. And TRUST me, I would love to oblige.
I started this blog, I have built this blog into what it has become since relaunch, because I wanted to help writers become better writers. Yet the one thing writers want – individual feedback – I don’t have the time or the funds to give.
Or do I?
Listen. I would not keep up with this posting schedule if I didn’t care about the work. It is a lot of work, but I’m not complaining, because I like it. I like you. I want to help you. And for as long as I am able, I’m going to continue doing what I do here, because I truly believe it matters.
But I want to do more. I have not been able to do more up until this point, because this blog is free for you, free of advertisements for you, free of sponsored content for you, because there are already too many websites drowning in ads and sponsored posts and I just refuse.
I WANT TO GIVE YOU FEEDBACK – detailed, individual, helpful feedback on your writing, fiction, nonfiction or otherwise, that can change your writing life for the better. Or at least connect you with others in your exact same situation who can.
But I can’t. Not for free. Good, high-quality feedback takes so much more time than you think it does. It’s just not something I have the luxury of giving away without cost. I love you. But I also love eating and doing laundry and the idea of not being trapped under student debt for the rest of my life.
I know I’m not the only one frustrated by the way online publishing works. I know free is a writer’s favorite word and I know what I’m about to ask may seem unfair. Which is why I’m asking. Someone who didn’t care about their audience would throw up a paywall and call it a day. I would never do that to you.
But there is a way we can work together to fix this problem, one writer at a time.
The solution: Starting a writers’ feedback program.
Online publishing is no longer the best option for writers who want to submit their best work to websites, magazines or literary journals. We’re putting too much focus on just getting our work out there and not enough on offering our best work to the world.
You can’t do this without feedback. I can’t give you feedback without support. You can invest in your future career as a writer and join a movement that believes in better writing.
I’m just asking, that’s all. You can learn more on our Patreon page.
I think we can all do better. I don’t think we can do it alone, though. Websites aren’t interested in helping you write better – they just want your stuff. I want your stuff to be better, so when you do get out there and start showing it off, it’s something you can be proud of.
Think about it. There’s a problem. We can fix it. By writing! Our favorite thing. There’s power in that. I can’t just sit around and let this happen without doing something about it. I’m going to do everything I can. I’m determined. I’m ready. Are you?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.