Seven Habits of Highly Efficient Editors
Editor, Widget Monthly
Reports to the publisher. Oversees art and production staff. Responsible for planning, editing, and managing the overall editorial operation of the magazine, including reporting and writing key stories. Manages editorial budget. Represents the magazine at trade shows and in the professional community; interacts with other media for editorial promotion purposes.
Here then are seven habits of highly efficient editors:
1. They don’t manage;they lead. They have something to prove. They know how to lead a magazine to glory. They lead by example with work habits, coming to work on time or even early, and staying late when the crunch is on.
2. They are enlightened despots. Democracy rarely works at a magazine. You can fail in this business because you try to accommodate everyone. Avoid analysis paralysis. Being a leader means welcoming input, but avoiding committee-like decisions and being, at times, fiery tough. “Be courageous,” said the late, great A.C. Spectorsky. “I am sure that all of us can recall situations in which vacillation, doubt, a failure of nerve, an unwillingness to risk, have led inevitably to one more proof of the ﾑPeter Pan Law’;prompt and decisive action will pan out, whereas caution and timidity will peter out.”
3. They know how to win. They strive to be number one for unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. They communicate their vision clearly, with gusto in memos. They don’t call or attend meetings; they win them.
4. They keep the customer satisfied. Job #1 is telling the reader how to do the job better. Successful publishing means recognizing, developing and bringing great ideas into the publication. They know their primary mission is not figuring out how the magazine must look, but rather how it tells readers, issue after issue, how to be successful.
5. They are multi-taskers. They meet deadlines, stay on or under budget, work on several stories at once, negotiate with contributors, find visuals to go with stories, approve layouts, and can see what others are blinded to by familiarity as they bring new talent into the pages.
6. They realize that magazines are edited, not written. This means thinking ahead, editorial planning, creating lineups, and steering them along to publishing completion;cover concept and design, cover lines, article heads and subheads, text copy, columns, departments and special features. It also means editing stories so that they possess a style that is driven by a touch of wit (when appropriate), effective use of analogy and the capability to surprise the reader by a sudden turn in the prosaic road.
7. They recognize the value of change. They know that all news is based upon change, all reporting is change, and the editorial momentum of a b-to-b means tracking change, not status quo. For the efficient editor this means not just doing things better but also doing better things while projecting a consistent personality with a recognized editorial viewpoint. New departments. New columnists. New packaging for the annual show issue. The editor’s role calls for a winning blend of efficiency and leadership on the job.