EDIT: (on 30 August 2022) I have now being given a date the article will be published. I will update again after payment is made.
SECOND EDIT: (25 October 2022) I finally recieved payment today.
So to summarise: I sent the requested edits near the end of May, the article was published at the beginning of September, and I was paid near the end of October.
As writers, most of us have come across editors (and other people) who seem to think a writer’s time is somehow worth less than their own. I’m not talking about the usual rejections and lack of responses, though that can be annoying, but understandable with the amount of submissions they get.
I’m talking about one specific experience which may be the most time I’ve had wasted as a writer. This began with a pitch to The Sun. Yes, not everyone’s favourite newspaper, I know, but a great credit to add to any writing CV, no matter your political views.
I proposed an article about spending a week using the Too Good to Go App, and whether this would result in reducing how much I spent on food. They accepted, and I got to work immediately, and submitted the article a few days before the tight deadline.
If anyone has experience using this app, especially if you don’t have a car, you will know this took a lot of time. It wasn’t just the time spent going to collect the food. I had to plan around days and times I would be passing through certain areas, especially as I work from home and don’t need to travel very often. Then I had to frequently check the app, as the food from these places can be listed at random times and be sold out within minutes.
This was on top of keeping notes on my food haul, taking pictures, the actual writing of the article and editing it. I was excited though and thought this would look great on my CV, possibly helping me get more freelance work, either with The Sun or other publications.
I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks, but sent a short email just asking for confirmation. I get it. They are busy people and have more work to do than just dealing with me. It doesn’t hurt to make sure the editor you’re dealing with has received your work though, and takes them less than a minute to say, “yes we have and we will be in touch”.
The response basically said as much, so I waited. Then at 16:24 on a Friday, one of the two people I had been dealing with got back to me and asked for edits by the end of the weekend. I thought this was a bit short notice, but I didn’t complain. I cancelled my weekend plans and did what she asked. I sent this across on the Sunday afternoon.
I hate to be one of those writers who pester editors all the time, but I’ve already mentioned this was a lot of work.
So, I waited a few weeks and sent a polite enquiry into whether either of them had received the edits I sent across.
A few more weeks later and I emailed them saying I had another pitch, which I did, and asking if I should wait until they got a chance to look at the edits I had sent. I didn’t want to pester them, but hoped this would be a gentle push to at least confirm they received them while answering my question about the new pitch I wanted to send across.
You’ve guessed it. I got no response, other than the out of office response from one of the two women saying she was on holiday. This was fair enough, but I couldn’t help feeling a little annoyed that the other woman didn’t respond in her absence. I waited until she was back and still heard nothing, so I emailed explaining that due to the information (prices, etc) in the article it would soon be outdated and asking them to confirm whether they still wanted the article. I also said if I didn’t hear in a month (as in a simple yes or no, I wasn’t saying they should publish the article by then) I would need to send it somewhere else because of the work I put into it.
The silence was deafening.
I’m now sending the article around, but I’m not holding out much hope. Most publications want a pitch they can help to develop, rather than a fully written article. I was a bit reluctant to write and post this blog because I don’t like to name and shame, and didn’t want legal threats. Although, I have emails from them, and unanswered emails I sent, which are now saved in my email account and these confirm everything I am saying here.
Hopefully, it makes someone out there realise that this is a shitty way to treat people, not just writers, but anyone. Most people are busy, but to have someone do the work, then change your mind and ghost them is never acceptable. I wasn’t even offered a *kill fee or given an apology for wasting my time.
(*For non-writers, a kill fee is when an editor decides not to publish an article they previously agreed to, but pays a smaller fee than agreed to appease the writer for the work they have done, leaving the writer able to publish somewhere else, if they can find someone who wants a pre-written article.)