Yay! I just finished two things I’d promised to do (one on time, one very, very late.) But in managing to finish those two things, I accidentally let my post for today slip my mind until I woke up this morning. Which got me to thinking about deadlines.
When you start writing for publication, you’re going to face deadlines. These are the dates on which the editor must have your work turned in so that things can move along to the next phase of a project. Remember back in the day when you were in school? One of the life skills you should have taken away is the importance of being on time. Deadlines may seem arbitrary, especially if you’re not directly involved in the process past the writing portion, but believe me, they’re necessary. I sometimes set deadlines of my own when working here on MW. Whenever we have a special guest, I always ask that the post be turned in to me at least a full day ahead of the scheduled appearance, so that I have time to proofread it, add links and photos and schedule it to pop up right on time. If the guest post is late, that makes me late and leaves you, our readers, with nothing new to see for a day.
Deadlines for your work are no different. An editor decides what day she absolutely must have your work so that she can edit it and pass it along to the next stage in the process. If you’re late, she’s late, and the whole project slows down. Being on time with your work is one of the best ways to impress an editor, and I highly recommend it.
But what if you’re delayed due to circumstances beyond your control? This happens, and editors understand. Be honest, and try to let the editor know before the due date if possible. The sooner the editor knows of a problem, the easier dealing with it will be. That’s not to say that it’s okay to be late with every single project and claim that life happened. After a while, editors will start worrying that you have too much difficulty with everyday issues and that maybe some other writer might be a better choice for the next anthology or article.
One other thing…if you’re coming up on a deadline and your work is not ready, don’t just turn it in with the thought that, “Oh, the editor will fix it later.” He might, sure, but he could just as easily send it back to you and say, “Sorry, but this isn’t at all what we wanted. Thanks anyway.” Turn in the best work you can, and turn it in on time.