Monday, August 28, 2006

The making of a magazine

(ninth in a series)

Every now and then, I receive an e-mail or letter from a potential contributor who wants his or her article to appear in WildBird, earns a spot in a future issue and then sabotages the relationship. The sour situation could have been avoided simply via certain actions.

Keep track of all assignments and deadlines.

Typically, I send a reminder to writers two weeks to a month before their articles are due. I shouldn't need to act like someone's mother, but it's apparently necessary.

A couple years ago, a writer replied, "Oh, I’m working on a book and can’t write the article," so I wrote that contributor’s name on the Never Again List. When a book (or another project) takes top priority, a writer needs to show the professional courtesy of informing me of the change in writing commitments. This allows me time to find a replacement and to inform the advertising salespeople of a change in the editorial calendar.

Recently, I sent an e-mail reminder about an upcoming deadline to a new writer. I didn't receive an Undeliverable reply, so I figured that the e-mail reached its destination and presumably the writer's eyes. About a week after sending the e-mail, I sent the contract (which states the deadline). The paperwork didn't come back in the snail-mail, so it presumably reached its destination and the writer's eyes. I thought we were good to go.

The deadline arrived... nothing from the writer. I sent an e-mail. No response. I called and left a message. No response. Two days after the deadline, I received a voicemail (that didn't include a return phone number -- grrr) with the writer saying he'd thought the deadline was the next month and was it too late to send the article. Yes, in fact it was too late, because I'd scrambled to find a replacement for the AWOL author, who's now on the Never Again List.

Unprofessional and/or discourteous writers might find themselves with fewer venues for their work. Capisce?

Care to see the previous goof?


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