One of the reasons I like having other writers as friends is that we can commiserate with one another about frustrating editors.
This particular frustrating editor story is not my own and no, I won’t tell you whose it is, though I was given the writer’s permission to share it here. Certain details, such as the name of the publication, the story idea, and portions of the emails have been changed.
And all names, of course, have been redacted.
The background is this: The writer, who we’ll call Brenda, had received the green light from an editor in response to Brenda’s pitch about a major hotel opening in a capital city in Asia. Brenda spent at least 7 months doing research for the article (with long email threads back and forth with the publication).
Round 1 of email:
[To Brenda, from the editor]
…I was also wondering if this [article] was something that could be pushed to a later issue due to your space limitations.
Having spent months researching with many contacts and fleshing out the idea, settling for a small fee unfortunately seems disproportionate for all the effort. I say this with the highest respect.
Round 2 of email:
[Brenda added a local tax, required by law where she lives, to her invoice, adding roughly $3 to the total. The editor replied with the following:]
Our other writers [from your area] which we use regularly have not been required to add this.Will speak to [another senior editor] but I’m afraid what this means is that we’ll have to consider whether we can use your work in the future as it seems more involved than with our other writers.
It’s really not too complicated to be honest with you. Those other writers [from my area] are probably taking the [local tax] hit for an opportunity to continue writing for [your publication] in a competitive and tight writing market. Anyways, I’ve taken off the [tax] since it’s such a small amount [$3]. Here is a revised invoice.
She receives no response.
Shortly thereafter, Brenda receives an email from another staffer at the publication:
We’re publishing a feature [using your idea] …. Do you have any photographs/resources to send us? Hope to hear from you.
What do you think of this exchange? Do you have a frustrating editor story? Share your thoughts in the comments.