Friday, October 5, 2007

Editor Troubles

I could start with metaphors or cliches. I could rant and rave, wave my arms around me and froth at the mouth. I could shout about the injustices of the publishing world and cry about my poor ego that has been bruised and beaten. I could start so many ways but I won't, at least not now ;o).

When I saw a particular ad for a writer to provide content for a particular online magazine, I jumped at the chance. I barely registered the low pay but the quality of the site and the seemingly professionalism of the editor made me leap head first into the work.

I guess I should have known better, I should have looked at the price and said, "Wait a minute, is my time really worth this." Did I do that? Nope, nadda, no way. I was eager to start writing for this company, eager to cut my teeth on a new topic that I have never written on before. I hate to admit it but I had been type casted already and although I enjoy writing about pets and animals, I long for other topics. That is why I was able to overlook the pay.

When we talked about terms it was simply 15 dollars per article and they did not say that I would lose full rights to my article. They also didn't discuss that the only way to have my name on the article was to write the article for free. This came much later, after the article was sent in and after the article was published.

From the time I handed in the article to the time I saw it published, I had been out of touch with the editor. They did not give a clear answer as to if it would be published only that it might be in the October issue. Fair enough. I did not invoice them since I was planning on writing a few more articles for them before hand.

Come October 1st, the article was published, without crediting me and I had not received payment. I wasn't too stressed by it and sent a letter asking why my article was printed without my name. See Exposure or Pay for further details on that.

I did send a reply back that I would give them 1st rights to the article for free but my name needed to be on the article. They did not respond until last night where they told me they were pulling the article, which they have not done so as of 2:00pm today, and they said some derogatory things about me and the fact that I dictated my rights. I mean how could I stand up for myself and tell them that not only did they have to put my name on an article I wrote and they didn't pay for but I was also only giving them first rights.

This is my reply back to the editor and please bear in mind that this was written during the heat of the moment. I have also taken out information that will identify the magazine.


Thank you for addressing my concern in a professional manner. I am sure that you were so turned off that you reacted by being derogatory and condescending. It shows the caliber of professionalism that both you and your magazine bring to the table.

Let's state facts here. You used my article, however poorly written you felt it was, without my permission or paying me for it. You then took off my name, published it without alerting me and continued on with business. When I called you on it, you stated that you had no idea it was my article. I'm not sure what your filing system is but if you do not know who the writer is or if you even paid for a piece, you should not use it. Its hard to believe that you didn't know who wrote it since my name is under the title on the first page. Even if some mishap with white out occurred and you were unable to see my name, what you did is content theft. Taking an article and publishing it without full permission is not an ethical practice.

I am still a fairly new writer but I'm not desperate enough for exposure that I would over look being exploited. You should really look at your business practices and the fact that paying 15 dollars for full rights of a 1000 word article is exploiting new writers. I have read through both your copy of the article and my copy and although there were changes it was not a significant amount to claim that you rewrote the piece. This was my first ******* article and it is reflected in the copy but if it was so rough you should not have used it. Many of the places that were changed had less to do with editing and more to do with the spiritual tone that you prefer to reflect in articles on your site.

I have published several articles where they paid $200 or more for first time rights. I did not expect that from you since I would not exploit a new company that is just starting out. I understand that there are a lot of variables in publishing especially when you are starting but since I won't exploit small companies, I expect the same courtesies extended to me.

As to your statement "by dictating what we could use", that is my right because I wrote it. It is my article and I do not want to give you full rights to it. There really isn't anything else to say to that except that you plagiarized my article by trying to change it enough to pass it off as your own without crediting me.

Also, Editor, I handed in the article directly to you. I did not give it to anyone else and the only person that I have ever spoken to from the ******* ****** is you.

In regards to the article being taken off your site, it is still up there. Here is the link to it "link". Since we are no longer in a working relationship, I want the article off your site immediately, no archiving or anything else. I have no desire in working with a company that has conducted itself in the manner yours has.

If it is not taken off in a timely manner I will be contacting both my attorney and other writing organizations and alerting them to your practices and the fact that you are exploiting new writers.


Sirena Van Schaik"

So there it is in a nutshell, although a very big nut to be sure. I was plagiarized, I had my article used without proper permissions, or payment. I was insulted and abused by an editor and ultimately I was burned by the magazine.

I feel stupid for not seeing the red flags but I am hoping that my mistakes will teach not only myself but other writers to avoid those magazines that pay low amounts. Once in a while you may find a gem of a contract where there is more than enough quantity to make up for the low pay but more often than not you will find a greedy little publication that wants to steal content and make their money by forcing writers into low pay and even lower gratitude.

I will keep you updated on how this works out but for now, be wary of low paying jobs.

1 comment:

Carolyn Erickson said...

Sirena, I don't think you should beat yourself up over not seeing red flags. I'm not so sure they were all that obvious.

Some start-ups paying $15 might be wonderful, legitimate opportunities, run by wonderful, professional publishers.

The fact that this editor dealt unethically is her fault, not yours.