Cec and I contracted to do a compilation book with Guideposts and we carefully chose our stories from hundreds that came in. The submission guidelines clearly stated that the publisher’s senior editor would make final decisions for inclusion in the book. At the stage just before the publisher sent the manuscript to the printer, the editor had to cut two stories. It wasn’t because they were bad; it was because the pagination in the book was off.
The editor felt terrible about the situation, and I felt even worse because I had the unfortunate task of informing the two contributors. In the email to them I apologized on the editor’s behalf and told the two ladies that he offered to send their stories to the editor-in-chief of another Guideposts publication with a circulation of half a million. Not only was it an opportunity for greater exposure, but they would also get paid a second time for the use of their stories.
Contributor #1 did not respond well. She acted as though we were best friends up to that point, but the news I delivered caused her to become a vicious, evil woman. I became the target of her wrath through Facebook messages and several emails (with copies sent to Cec, the editor, and contributor #2). She also emailed contributor #2 privately and said harsh things. She used an abundance of words to make it clear that the situation was not acceptable to her and why.
It turned into a huge mess, and Cec was ready to pay big bucks to send me to therapy. He stepped in and told her that such actions are not unusual in publication and that it was a professional issue and not a personal one. The editor attempted to calm her down with a thorough explanation of why he had to cut her story.
After her tirade neared an end—finally—she emailed again and asked if she should still contact the editor at Guideposts about the other publishing possibility, “or did I overstep the line when I shared my honest feelings with you?”
Contributor #2 was, of course, disappointed her story had to be cut, but she responded professionally with grace and kindness. She continues to stay in contact with us, and Cec wrote the foreword to her new book. Contributor #1 unfriended me on Facebook and unsubscribed from Cec’s monthly newsletter.
My advice? If you truly want to build your platform, think twice about the way you treat the ones giving you publishing opportunities.
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Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She works full time with best-selling author Cecil Murphey and enjoys teaching at writers conferences across the nation. Twila has written or co-written five books and contributed to several others. For more info, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com.