Random thought of the day: Am I the only person in this country who doesn't find Borat just frickin' hilarious? My husband tried to drag me to that movie, and since I can't even sit through a 30 minute episode, I swore to him that I'd walk out. He's there now with my brother. Seriously...what am I missing? I Can. Not. Stand. The. Guy. (Borat, not my husband!) :)
Question of the day: I'm a new freelancer, working hard to build some decent clips. To that end, I recently did a piece for a small-but-national niche magazine. Having read an issue, I knew that the editing was pretty sloppy, so I made sure to have an editor friend review my piece before I sent it in.
After I submitted it, I spoke to my editor at the magazine only briefly. I asked about changes, and she told me generally about one small change they were making. Well, I've got the published book in hand now, and I'm seething. The one omission they told me about resulted in a lack of transition (forgivable), but they also added an erroneous comma in the first sentence of the second paragraph! Then, farther on, they made some cuts that resulted in unclear antecedents and a clear run-on sentence. So I'm mad, but trying to be constructive about this.
Here are my questions:1. In the future, should I demand to see final copy before it goes to press? 2. Should I mention my discontent (politely) to my editor? Frankly, I don't want to work for them again if I risk this sort of thing happening. However, it could behoove my career to get a couple of more clips this way. 3. Most importantly, is there any way I can use this clip now? The errors are really glaring from an editor's perspective (I was an editor, though not an assigning one, for several years). Is there any standard means of saying "these aren't my fault!" Or is it possible that editors are unlikely to actually read my clips?
Whoo boy. First of all, I'm so sorry. This really blows. Really, really blows. Let's answer your questions in the order received and see if we can't make this a little better.
1) Yes, you absolutely can ask to see a galley of your article before it goes to press. I know several writers who insist on this - they might even put it in their contracts - because they've been burned in the past or because they want to ensure that they're happy with the work that will carry their byline. I don't demand it, but many of my editors do send me a Word file and ask me to approve the piece before it gets printed. And clearly, you can and should do the same, should you continue working for this magazine. You can ask nicely but firmly without coming off like a pain in the ass.
2) Oy, this is a murky area, so I'd love to hear how other readers would handle it. I'd probably take one of two routes, assuming that you decide to keep writing for them. 1) I'd wait until I landed another assignment and then, once everything was hunky-dory, just ask to see the final copy of the piece. Why piss her off by pointing out her errors when you're capable of policing them on your own? Or 2) Send the editor a very gracious note, so she wouldn't in any way take the tone to be accusatory or hostile, and say something like, "I was so thrilled to receive the clip of my article on How to Fly to Space. Thanks again for assigning it. I did notice a few changes in the piece, such that some of the sentences were slightly askew or could be misinterpreted. It's not such a big deal, but I know that you guys are committed to putting out a top-quality magazine (which is why I love reading it!), so thought I'd mention them as something to be aware of in the future." I wouldn't make the note about YOU; rather, I'd make it about helping HER, without sounding condescending, if that makes sense.
3) Ugh, geez. Again, I'd love to hear what other people think about this. Well, one thing I wouldn't do is send out your clip with the disclaimer that the editor added in several errors. I mean, if you're sending this to other editors, they're going to think it's pretty lousy of you to throw your editor to the wolves. (That said, if you already had a relationship with these editors, then it might be worth mentioning. I'm friendly w/a lot of my editors to the point where quick publishing gossip is occasionally exchanged - i.e, how is this magazine to work for, etc - so I think in that circumstance, I could probably point out the errors, but I wouldn't do so to a stranger or a new-to-me professional contact.) If you think the writing really isn't top-notch, then I probably wouldn't use it, sad to say. You could still list this magazine in your credits in your cover letter, but it wouldn't be the first thing that I'd send into editors. If they pressed you for it, hmmm, I dunno, I guess maybe you could send it over with the disclaimer that "a lot got cut, so it reads differently than the version you sent in, but that you did want to give them a feel for what you can do." This is different than placing blame on your editor, and I'd think that an editor wouldn't read too much into it.
I dunno, but I do know that I'm sorry that this happened to you...thoughts from readers? What would you do?