By Claudette Young
Who’s Ed? Why, your Editorial Calendar, that’s who.
Okay, so you write. Remember those “w’s” followed by the “h”? You know, Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
The answers to all of those questions resides on the pages of the writer’s editorial calendar. And if you’ve never used one or established a habit of formulating one at the end of the year for the next twelve months, stay put and I’ll explain why you might want to tackle this necessary writerly habit.
Who needs an editorial calendar?
- Any writer who wants to keep a ready market to hand for their work
- Any writer who freelances in any category
- Any writer who works both as creator and editor
- Any writer who works in multiple genres
- Any writer
Why is a calendar necessary?
- It allows a writer to anticipate possible markets months in advance
- It allows a writer to track their progress on a daily, weekly, monthly basis
- It provides guidance when the writer gets stuck on one project and needs to shift gears
- It motivates the creative mind to keep creating
- It stimulates the submission process by allowing for multiple markets for each project
How difficult is it to develop and maintain such a calendar?
- Difficulty depends on the format used by the writer
- Electronic (cloud-driven) editorial calendar systems are available for free online
- MS Excel can be used for spreadsheet format planning and tracking
- The writer decides on what is included (how detailed) on the calendar used
- Some believe the more detail included on the calendar allows for less overall maintenance time needed by the user
What information goes onto the calendar?
Again, this depends entirely on the whim of the writer. For me, I’ve been excessively detailed and barely detailed. But then I use two different calendars. It’s every writer’s option as to how many calendars they need.
Let me explain. I write long and short. Short projects such as poetry, flash fiction, short stories, essays, etc. go on a specifically detailed calendar. Why?
I began my first calendars in cheap hardcopy ledger tablets. They had plenty of rows and columns for tilling with potential moneymakers. Now, I use Excel most of the time for my calendars. I have lots of boxes to play with for each project. That means whether I’ve begun a project or am just thinking about one. Here’s how it goes.
- Line one: Project name>Max length>Deadline due>Freelance/Assigned>Publication>DOS/Date of Submission>EDOR/Estimated Date of Response>Accepted/Rejected
- Line Two: Second Publication Choice>LDOSD/Latest Date of Submission Deadline>Rewrite from Different Angle Y/N>DOS>EDOR>Accepted/Rejected
- Line Three: Repeat of Line Two
As I said, this calendar style is for my freelance, short project side of things. I do hours of market research before beginning a calendar for the next year. I include contests, competitions of all sorts, anthologies, articles and as many diverse markets as possible. If I choose not to use some of them, no harm no foul.
My calendar is categorized by type of project, genre, audience, publication as indie or mass market.
For long projects, such as screenplays or novels, etc. I use a similar calendar style but without the same type of excess detail. For instance, if I want to begin a rapid-release series of novelettes/novellas on Kindle with a month/two-month release cycle, my calendar would look totally different and stand indecently of all others.
Why all emphasis on calendars?
The answer is simple. It’s how publication/publishers set up their coming year. Every publication, from major newsletters to international magazines, glossies or recycled paper, establish editorial calendars months in advance of a new year.
Themes for issues, special event issues, etc. are decided upon and carved in stone for the next twelve months. Guidelines are rewritten if necessary, whether agented-only submissions are allowed, and everything in-between is placed on the calendar used by that publication’s editors. It’s their publishing bible for those coming months.
If you freelance or simply work long projects, it’s always to your advantage to know what an editor is looking for as far in advance as possible. It allows you to plan, lets ideas percolate and put you in the driver’s seat.
So, how does a writer learn an editor’s expectations?
Simple, ask them. Go to the publications website or contact them directly. Introduce yourself and ask them if it’s possible to get a copy of their editorial calendar. Usually, the website has one ready for downloading or copying. Remember themes are established really early. You might as well get used to thinking ahead and plan accordingly.
If you have questions, ask them. You don’t have to go to the top for the answers. Find the name of an associate editor. They have much the same information. And they don’t always get lots of credit. It makes them feel good to have writers come to them as the expert. It could easily help later down the line, too, when you submit a piece for review. You have already established a minor relationship with one of the editors.
If you prepare even the most basic of editorial calendars, you’ll stay on track better, complete projects more often, and submit more often than without one. Think of it as your daily planner. Whether you freelance with small personal essays or big articles, poems or photos, Ed Cal can be the friend who smiles and says “Go for It” every week.
Editormial Calendars Available Online