Adventures with editors
A great opportunity
Lately I was asked to write an article for the ‘Travel’ section of one of the best fashion magazines in Poland. I was so happy! I felt like Carrie Bradshaw! Of course, I put all my heart into it. I didn’t expect working with editors can be so hard.The article was supposed to be about Italy, so I asked my Italian friends for help, I included a lot of interesting and unknown facts. First, I created a wide brief. The magazine accepted a few parts of it and that was what I was supposed to write about. They told me the article should contain around 9000 words. Eventually, I wrote 10000. I checked it a million times, I asked my family to read it. My deadline was short, but I managed to send the article in time. I thought that if there are any changes needed, bigger than just style and punctuation, the publishing house would contact me. After sending the article they just answered „Thank you. We’ll send you the ready article for authorization”. Ok.
After some time, longer than my deadline, they sent me a ready piece of the newspaper and… I was devastated. They changed a lot. They shortened the article a lot (much more than just this 1000 words). There were more pictures than text. Most of the essence was still there, but they completely changed my style of writing and cut off a few most interesting facts. I was heartbroken. I had a feeling they didn’t want to find out anything new about Italy expect the facts everybody already knows. The article seemed to me like any other touristic brochure. I had a feeling the editor could write this article herself based on my brief, it was so different from what I wrote. I didn’t know what to do. Again, I asked my family and friends for advice. They could see how much has been changed, but told me I had two options: either let it go and accept or refuse the publication of the article at all.
I thought a lot about it and eventually I made my decision. I accepted the article, but asked not to translate the original Italian name of one of the places. They agreed for what I asked. I wasn’t very happy and proud anymore, but I realized it was an important lesson for me. After the next 2 weeks I got an information that the boss didn’t like my introduction of the article and I immediately needed to change it. I delivered a new one the next day. Again, I just asked not to remove all the previous one, as it contained something important. I appreciate that they considered what I wrote and this important part stayed.
Now I’m waiting for the magazine to go out. I’m not writing this post to complain. I just want to share with you the important lesson about the process of publishing. I’ve talked to other authors and they had similar experiences with publishing their books. The editors can be brutal or think completely differently. Have you seen the movie “Genius” with Colin Firth and Jude Law? If so, you know what I mean. Changing the text hurts, it’s our baby. For us it’s perfect as it is and nobody should touch it. But this situation made me realize one thing: you either accept the game and learn how to play within the rules or you quit and don’t play at all. If we want to be writers, we have to deal with such situations. At first I was heartbroken, now I laugh. It’s a part of the process and I want to belong to the writing world, so I have to learn how to deal with it. I learned not to be so attached to my texts, even if I put all my heart into them. I also learned to consider that the magazine has to be consistent and all the texts should be in a similar style, so sometimes they have to change the texts. What is more, editors know the market much better than we do, so maybe sometimes they have a point.
What about you?
I hope you will find this text useful. If you already had some experiences with the editors, share them in the comments. I’m curious to know how it looked from your perspective. If it’s still something unknown to you, think about it and imagine how you’d behave in such situation, because you might experience it one day. Some of you may say: ‘I’d never let anyone change my text’. Well, think again. Of course, you can live that way, but you may also miss a few amazing opportunities if you remain so stubborn. I think, as writers, we have to learn a few things: how to write good stories and how to publish them, including all the good and bad sides of it.
Special thanks to Luca, who helped me stop panicking and realize it all.