I recently landed two articles in a mid-sized magazine, and when reviewing the second noticed a letter to the editor tearing apart my first article. The letter was quite vitriolic, there were no counter-opinions expressed, and I was never contacted for any rebuttal. I have to admit to bruised feelings since even though everyone is entitled to an opinion, I had hoped I might have been backed up with a balanced opinion or even a chance to respond to letter writer.
I often send editors a quick note following publication, thanking them for including my piece and often pitching new ideas, but I am hesitant to send the note as I am wondering how to handle this situation professionally. Should I disregard the letter in my note? Mention it and include a professional response? Any other suggestions?
I’ve been freelancing for just a couple of years and have not had this situation come up before. I wasn’t sure if by publishing such a letter the editor was endorsing this writer’s point of view, simply allowing another person to voice their concerns, or what. I do know it made me uneasy about approaching the editor for more work, although I’ve always respected their magazine and have had no direct criticism from the editor.
Thanks for any input you have!
Don’t worry. It’s really no big deal. Yes, the editor is obligated to air the other side’s opinion. That doesn’t mean he/she agrees with the “other side.” And, while you might consider writing a rebuttal to the writer and asking the editor to run it, by the time the next issue comes out, anybody who even bothered to read that letter will have long forgotten it anyway. If I were you, I’d ignore it.
An article about me in Doll Crafter magazine raised an uproar among reborn doll artists. They complained that the I was teaching women how to reborn a doll in a day when they’re charging hundreds and even thousands of dollars for reborning dolls online. In that case, the editor contacted me and I simply directed her to a statement in my book that says, “While I realize reborn artists will not be happy with this book, it’s only fair to share this information with women who can’t afford to pay hundreds for an artists’ doll.”
That nipped the argument in the bud pretty quickly. But, if the editor hadn’t contacted me about all the mail, I’d have never known. And, if I’d had read the letters, I’d have simply ignored them. Everyone’s a critic. Some people seem to make it their life’s goal to see how many writers they can tear down. Let them ruin their own day. But, don’t let them ruin yours. And, you never know, but the critic could have been another writer who wants your regular gig with that magazine. And, yes, query the magazine again. I wouldn’t even bother mentioning the critic.
WRITER FOLLOWS UP:
I sent you that question right before Thanksgiving, and you were kind enough to respong right away. I just wanted to say thanks-I took your advice, ignored the letter to the editor and queried again. I’m happy to say that I’ve landed another assignment with the magazine and an open door to send further ideas.
I (and I’m sure countless others) appreciate what you do for the online writing community. Thanks again and, since I’m already writing you, congratulations on your good news!