I recently received a copy of a magazine that contained one of my articles. It was unrecognizable. Parts of it were mine but it was overworked by the editor to such an extent that my voice was lost. Worse, she inserted errors! My name is on the article and it’s awful. What can I do? They did pay me.
-Paid but Angry
At WritersWeekly.com, we buy several articles per year. Most of them only need light editing and the writers are happy. Every once in awhile, I must rewrite an article because it was either not was the writer originally pitched, it contained errors, or it didn’t include enough examples or resources. When this happens, I contact the writer, tell them I’m paying them anyway (we have a 100% kill free), send them the rewritten article, and ask if they still want their name on it, if they want me to put my name on it, or if they want it to be listed as co-written. Every time this has happened (less than a dozen times over the years), the writers have requested I agreed to have the article listed as co-written.
I would never, ever rewrite an entire article and still put the writer’s name on it without permission. But, again, some articles need heavy editing!
There are some editors who have a God complex. They rewrite everything…not because everything needs to be rewritten but because doing so makes them feel superior to their writers. In those cases, the editor should be asking permission before publishing the piece under the writer’s name.
I recommend you immediately contact the editor. Politely point out that the article is no longer in your voice, list a couple or a few of the errors she inserted, and respectfully request that she immediately remove your name and bio from the piece.