Trying To “Trick” Editors Can (And Will) Backfire

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When you were a teenager, did you ever have friends who tried to trick their parents? Perhaps your girlfriend told her mother things like:

“Don’t you remember, Mom? You said we could stay out an hour late tonight!”

“But, Mom, you told me just last week that I could use your credit card at the mall!”

“Mother, you promised to pay me $10 for babysitting, not $8!”

Of course, these mothers probably thought they were developing early dementia. I didn’t fall for those shenanigans from our kids. (At least, I don’t think I did!)

Unfortunately, some people still use similar tactics in the business world. But, when you’re a grown-up, and you’re trying to trick someone in order to get paid, it’s called fraud.

Every once in awhile, a writer will send me an article…just an article. No cover letter. No separate note at all. Just the title, their name, the body of the article, and their bio. Of course, when this happens, I must search through my files to see if I ordered that article, but forgot about it. In each case, I had not. Writers we hire usually “reply” to my email when submitting their final article, and send their address, along with any other payment information I need.

One writer who got “caught” admitted his writing instructor taught him and his fellow students to do that. He was instructed to send unsolicited articles with no other correspondence, trying to catch the editor unaware, making them think they’d ordered the piece. I appreciated his honestly but I also blacklisted him. I don’t work with people who try to trick me, regardless of who taught them to do so.

Another writer was apologetic and I truly believe she wasn’t trying to trick me. But, her article was not the type of article we publish so it was obvious she hadn’t researched the market, nor read our guidelines. She said her instructor told them to write a piece, and just send it out there. Bad advice!

The funny ones are completely unrelated to our content at all. One writer sent me a poem today. We don’t publish poetry…especially romantic poetry, which is completely unrelated to the business of writing or publishing. Last week, a writer sent me an article on cheap travel in Europe.

Regardless of the topic of the article, even if it’s writing-related, I always reject it if the writer has tried to trick me into thinking it was an assignment. If a writer’s lack of ethics lead them to try to fool me, how can I trust their content? Perhaps they also steal from other writers. Where do they draw the line?

While this type of behavior isn’t that unusual for selfish teenagers, it has no place in the business world. Be completely honest in your dealings with editors, and follow the rules for submission. Professionalism will net you far higher profits (and a better reputation) in the long run!



About The Author

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Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

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