Expert Panel: Top Mistakes New Authors Make and How to Avoid Them
- On June 27, 2016
Publishing is a fantastic way to gain exposure and establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. While just about anyone can submit articles for publication, some are far more successful at seeing themselves in print–often because they avoid these common mistakes. Thanks to our panel of publishing experts, we get a first hand look at common mistakes and how to avoid them. Happy publishing!
Advice from Chris Salierno DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics
Before you start writing, check with an editor about their publication process. They may have some suggestions to help your piece fit their audience. Better yet, they might have written editorial guidelines that should improve your chances for getting published.
If it reads like a sales brochure, it will probably turn off readers. Mentioning specific products may be permitted by certain publications, but it’s generally a good idea to avoid superlative comments like “Bond-Rite is the best bonding agent I’ve ever used. It’s a real game-changer!” Commercials should be kept in ads, not editorial.
Advice From Richard Gawel, Digital Content Editor, Dentistry Today
Common mistakes new authors make:
– Being too promotional: don’t send us a product-hyping or service-hyping press release and call it a story.
– Not doing your homework: all references should be accurately and thoroughly documented.
– Poor copy-editing: no matter how insightful your technical content may be, it loses its “wow” factor when it’s packaged in bad grammar, poor spelling, and incorrect punctuation.
– Weak writing: again, no matter how insightful your technical content may be, it loses its “wow” factor when it’s packaged in the passive voice (yes, I realize the irony of telling you this in the passive voice myself) and couched in stiff and complicated prose that goes out of its way to be formal.
– Poor formatting: The simpler the document, the better. Keep your fonts, point sizes, use of bullets and subheads, etc., consistent without relying too heavily on extra features like bold print and italics, inserted graphics, etc.
– Incomplete packages: Read the magazine’s submission requirements and follow them to the letter, omitting nothing that’s requested. This also applies to graphics. If the magazine asks for a specific file type and minimum resolution, then all your graphics should follow accordingly.
Advice From Damon C. Adams, Editor-in-Chief, Dentistry Today
Our main concern, on editorial teams, is that authors review, and follow (in detail), publications’ author guidelines which can vary significantly. Asking questions, before completing documents and making a final submission, is a great way to learn what a publication needs and is expecting, in addition to a thorough review of author guidelines.
For our specific publication, once introduced to any author, we work directly with our authors. We do not accept submissions, nor work on any other editorial matters/questions related to specific articles, via PR firms or third-party representatives of the author.
Advice From Mrs. Adrienne Rizzo Gugler, Editorial Director, Dentistry Today
– It is a mistake to not include your full and updated contact information. It could be a formal cover letter, or just put at the top of a word document. Sometimes emails will bounce, so editors will need the best phone numbers in order to reach their potential authors.
Tips to be successful:
– While working with various editors of publications, always remember: (1) to make yourself available to answer editorial queries and requests, (2) to follow the editors’ directions and deadlines in order to make the production process run smoothly, and (3) keep all of your communications with them professional and friendly (as you would with your students, patients, colleagues, etc.). If you do this, there’s a better chance that you will be invited back to publish again.
Advice From Bonnie Hixson, Founder & Publisher, The Progressive Dentist Network & Magazine
– New authors often attempt to squeeze way too many topics into a single article. My advice to them – get really clear with your message. Focus on 2-3 key points and give readers actionable steps to put the ideas presented to use.
– Overuse of clichés – Establish your expertise by quoting yourself! Don’t waste valuable word count with tired sayings or overused quotes.
Advice from ReminMedia
– Don’t be afraid to say something new! Push the envelope and say what everyone is thinking, but is too afraid to say.
– Don’t try and be or sound like someone else. Your voice and point of view are unique, that is what makes you interesting.
– Publish often. While it takes time and effort, one article will not automatically establish you as an authority. Be consistent, and people will start associating your name with your topic/expertise.
– Don’t let the excuse “I am not a good writer” keep you from getting in the publishing game. There are ample resources available these days for ghostwriting.