Posts Tagged ‘Editors’

In my very short period of time officially reviewing magazines for The Sidebar Review, I’ve noticed how strongly I felt about something and didn’t even realize it. I run across really great editor’s notes in magazines — and then I run across the ones that lack the personality, insight and appeal that editor’s notes should have. One of my favorites (which actually counted as two) was in Florida Trend, in which both editor Mark Howard and publisher Andy Corty wrote notes that made them stand out and connect with their readers. Maybe there aren’t any perfect guidelines out there for what an editor’s note should be, but here are the qualities that make me open each issue of a magazine, again and again:

  • Personality Charisma should ooze from an editor’s note. At least as much as charisma would ooze from said editor. If an editor is a rambunctious playboy or an extroverted fitness freak, that personality should shine through. Just as a quiet church mouse or introverted accountant type should pop off the page in their own editor’s note. An editor’s note lacking personality is an editor’s note lacking an audience.
  • Insight Being an editor of a magazine isn’t that hard — that is, being the person who goes through the motions of assigning, editing and re-reading. What’s tough about an editor’s job is the ability to know and comprehend the audience, the industry and the subject matter in a manner that others don’t grasp. It’s up to the editor to impart this knowledge in the editor’s note. Did a major player in the industry just get acquired? If so, what does that mean for the industry? Is the magazine’s audience part of a shift that the editor can identify? Then explain your own hypothesis about this change. An editor should feel well-versed enough with the subject to put himself or herself out there and offer personal opinions and context.
  • Story Every piece of written work is better if it tells a story. Develop the subject around yourself or your own personal experiences or observations. Make people picture what you’re saying.
  • Relevance to Issue Okra should be included in the editor’s note of a cooking magazine if it’s the special okra issue. Just as the editor’s own kitten should be mentioned if it’s the special feline edition. Relate it to the inside. But don’t be one of those editors who just list every article in the magazine in the editor’s note as if it’s some sort of prose table of contents. That’s boring to everyone. Probably the editor, too. Don’t put your audience to sleep before they’ve even reached page 10.

What qualities make you pause to read an editor’s note? Or to seek it out when you pick up a magazine? What magazine consistently has a great editor’s note?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review