Monday, March 12, 2007

Hey Editor - Where the Hell Are You??

WIP update: I'm thrilled to report that I hit page 150 on Friday. Not just thrilled to hit that page, but because I've really pulled together the first half of the book and think it's all really clicking now. This week, I'm going to revise these pages again - I have a few sections that I still want to strengthen - and get it in shape to pass to my agent when she's back in town on Friday. How goes your work?

Question of the day: What do you make of editors who express interest in an essay or query and then go MIA? I had an editor commission a piece last fall with a fairly short turn-around time. I beat the deadline, then never heard from her. I keep following up every month or so asking about getting a kill fee or getting it published, but she always says she'll check with the other editors and that she'd love to get more queries from me, but I never get a definitive answer when I query with other projects or ask about the status on my old article. When is it time to write her off and submit the article elsewhere?

Ugh, isn't this the worst?? Okay, here's what I'd do.

First of all, it's important to remember that editors do not hold all the power. It's easy to be intimidated by them because yes, they are the gate-keepers and do ultimately determine whether or not you're published, but at the end of the day, they're people, just like us. Really. When I first started out, I, too, was cowed by their presence, but now that many of these editors have become friends, I really can state with authority that while I love 'em, they're certainly not on a higher plane than we are.

So remember that.

With that in mind, I'd send this editor an email saying, "I'm so glad that you expressed interested in my story, however, since I haven't yet been paid and since you haven't yet confirmed that you'll be running it, please let me know if you intend to use said story, as it's a timely piece, and I'd like to place it elsewhere if not. Please let me know by X date." This gives both of you a deadline - her, to make a decision, and you, to move on.

Now, if she had already paid you, it would be a different situation. Once you've been paid, they've fulfilled their end of the contract...they're not under any obligation to actually publish the piece. I can recall several time when I've actually been paid in full and never had the article run. That's just what happens in the magazine world when hot topics suddenly become cold and vice versa.

Good luck. I hope you get both paid and a published story!

So readers, what would you do in this position? And what have you done when you've found yourself in this position?


Trish said...

Congrats on making your goal, AWS! I'm psyched for ya.

I can't wait to hear what your agent thinks! Yippee!

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, T! I'm excited to get her feedback too. She liked the old draft a lot, but suggested a few changes, and with these changes, I really think the ms is taken to a new level. I'm thrilled!