Editors want writers to blow their socks off lyrically, yes. They also want them to be informative, relevant and concrete. These are two opposing sides to the same coin. The coin may land face-up or face-down, depending on the publication, but most often, the two sides should spin in a silver whir, scarcely distinguishable. In all your drive to educate, remember your own humanity; in all your wit, remember to be accessible. Dry jargon falls on deaf ears, as do obscure jokes.

Editors build relationships with their writers. If you are unknown to them (or, worse, they remember you badly), they may ignore you, particularly if you’ve taken it upon yourself to reinvent the wheel with your query format. Your job is to gain their trust. They’ve provided rules on how to do this the first time around: they’re called submission guidelines. They are a handy shortcut to the editor’s heart.

Editors will judge you quickly. It’s their job. They get hundreds of queries a day, month, year. Dealing with poets, CEOs and PR reps makes them suspicious of anything that looks too flighty, too stolid or at all self-promotional.

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