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  1. #1
    Eva S

    Contract Negotiation Update

    Over the past several months, I've posted about frustrations with one particular editor about mistakes being added in to the copy (and, in one particular case, where I was blamed for the transposition of an historical date, although my original was correct, and corrections refused), and trying to get a look at the proofs put into the contract before it goes to press.

    Why continue writing for this market? Because they upped my rate this year, and at this point, I can't afford to lose the money.

    Anyway, we've been in communication regularly over the past few weeks about how to make it work for both of us. He said he can't have me look at proofs, but if there's something I am particularly fond of that I don't want edited, he'll try to accommodate me.

    Now, I have no problem with being edited; I simply don't want typos ADDED to the manuscript. So I'm trying to come up with a diplomatic way of stating that.


  2. #2
    mike fulton

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    I'm not sure what market you write for, but most of my experience with editors has been through newspapers and magazines. Everything I submit is on a Word file unless I have designed the advertisement, then it's a tif. Most of the time, my designs are left alone because the idiots who handle the advertisements don't have to put their mits on my work and any errors are mine and i take the blame.

    Most problems come from articles. An example: I wrote an article for a book which chronicled the history of my city. I got into the project when the person who had been interviewed by the publication showed me the copy (originally, I was to supply only the photography). The copy was a mess. A fifth grader could have written the story better than the reporter had. I fixed the typos, the poor grammar, the weird sentence construction, etc. When I got my photographer's proof back, there was the usual crud on the photos, the photos had been reversed, etc.), and the copy had been rewritten to include even more typos. I resubmitted the copy with a note for the editor not to change the copy (This was about three full pages of 9x11. I get the copy back with a note telling me that if I didn't like the writing, I could do it myself.

    Fine. I interviewed the person about whom the article was written, and I rewrote the article COMPLETELY. I sent the copy back with a note that someone had left thumbprints on the transparencies and that the publication needed to rescan the transparencies.

    I get another proof back and the morons "fixed" my copy to include "it's" when "its" was the appropriate word. There were disagreements between subjects and their referent modifiers [e.g, "everyone" and "their" instead of "everyone" and "his"]. I couldn't believe it. I fixed what they had "fixed" and sent it off and told the editor that he should either take an English class or get a CAT scan. Something was horribly wrong.

    After five or six submittals, they finally quit monkeying with the copy.

    The book was published. The photos had dirt all over them. I got credit for the photography. Guess who got credit for the copy. Not I.

    All I can say is that the writer must be adamant in his demands regarding certain things, and he should stick to his guns. I am open to suggestions except when someone wants to substitute bad writing for good writing.

    Stick to your guns. Raise Holy Hannah. Don't let anyone get away with messing with your copy and then screwing it up.If you don't get a proof before publication, you should make a call to the editor or the owner and very calmly discuss professional courtesy and professionalism.

  3. #3
    Eva S

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    Gosh, I'm sorry to hear about your experience, Mike! The changes of "its" for "it's", etc. sound like they ran it through the grammer check function -- I'm horrified at what my grammar check comes up with, and ignore it -- give me Strunk & White any day!

    This market is the new age market, and, needless to say, they don't have fact checkers. I'm working on a diplomatic way to say, "It's okay to edit, but don't add typos."

    At least they're letting me use excerpts from articles, etc. on my website (I write for that market under pseudonym) and link to their webiste. And at least the editor and I have been discussing this. I was so angry when they transposed the historical date, tried to blame me for it, and refused to run a correction that I was spitting nails.

    I'm networking right now to find other markets that pay as well/better so I can ease out of writing for them without a substantial loss of income.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. #4
    Pamela Taylor

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    Hi Eva, I don't think there is any easy way to do this. You just have to be upfront and say, I like working for you, I respect your establishment, and I regret the tension between us the past few months. I don't want something like the date mix-up happening again, so how can we make sure typos aren't introduced to the text? If he doesn't have any suggestions, be prepared with your own.

    Of course, there are times when you simply can't work for someone any more. I once had an editor who called me and asked me to add a paragraph to an article I had written for him. The part he wanted me to add was about a totally non-related incident that really made no sense in the context of the article. I told him that I didn't think it should go in there, people wouldn't see the connection, and so on. He added it anyway, much to my displeasure (the article, of course, only has my by-line). I got lots of nice comments on the article, but at least half of them mentioned that paragraph and how they couldn't figure out what that part was about. I was so mad, I've never written for that editor again.

    Good luck on solving your problem!

  5. #5
    mike fulton

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    It isn't too bad after you have several publications under your belt to show prospective clients/employers. The writer who is trying to establish himself and needs to amass a portfolio of work, however, has the biggest problem, especially if he is writing for a fringe- or ultra small circulation magazine.

    Save everything you write on a zip disk or a floppy. While having the publication itself can be a good thing, you never know when a PR agency will go looking for a freelancer or even an employee and not want to interview until they've read some emailed articles.That's when your own copy is more important than the poorly-edited publication copy.

    The publication doesn't have fact-checkers? I don't know what publication WOULD have fact checkers.That's the writer's job. OED has fact checkers as do the major enclopedia publishers, but expecting a publication to have fact checkers is like expecting there to be two writers for each article!

  6. #6
    Eva S

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    My facts were correct -- I actually do check my facts before I submit. It's the fact that they add typos that makes me nuts.

    I do keep back ups of everything on disk.

    However, I seriously doubt THE NEW YORKER is the only publication who still employs fact checkers.

  7. #7
    Mary M.

    Re: Contract Negotiation Update

    Eva, I recall prior discussions here about your dilemma.

    I suggest you tell your editor that you will "appreciate the courtesy of his respect by allowing you to make revisions you consider necessary to maintain the integrity of your work in his publication."

    If he still won't agree, then you must make the decision about what you're willing to relinquish, his bucks or your writing ethics.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    Eva S

    Re: Mary

    Nice phrasing! I'll give it a shot.

    Believe me, as soon as I can replace that income, I will no longer be writing for the publication. However, I still need the money in order to eat and pay bills.


  9. #9
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Mary

    Eva/Mary M: Unfortunately, I think Mary's wording would leave a different impression with the editor than what Eva's real problem is. I think Eva should just say she wants to help prevent typos and drops that crept in after the copy was provided--she apparently has examples to show him that illustrate that this is a problem. These aren't author's revisions, they are "printer errors" (PEs) corrections.

  10. #10
    Eva S

    Re: Gary


    I worded something almost exactly to your suggestion, and the response was, "You should be more careful before submitting copy."

    Showing the editor my original (from which I sent his copy) which does not have the typos hasn't changed his point of view, which leaves me feeling a bit flummoxed, to say the least!

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