Did My Article Put FOUR Magazines Out of Business?! By Wendy Hobday Haugh

Did My Article Put FOUR Magazines Out of Business?! By Wendy Hobday Haugh

Sometimes a story is jinxed. I learned this disheartening truth after a 340-word humorous piece I submitted, describing my eldest son Henry’s take on his mother’s writing life, was accepted not once, not twice, but thrice by three separate magazines which, ultimately, folded before the story could ever appear in print. Looking back, outright rejection might have been easier to take. As it was, on three separate occasions my house rocked with shrieks of joy, first of the “Yay! I did it!” variety and, subsequently, of the “Yay! I did it AGAIN!” type.

Each acceptance was accompanied by a tentative date for publication or a kind “not sure yet when this will run, but we’ll be in touch.” Each time I waited patiently, my writer’s morale bolstered significantly by acceptance itself. But in each case, as time passed and patience waned, I wound up writing a courteous note of inquiry, SASE provided, only to receive (many months later) a “Sorry, magazine folded” or “No forwarding address given.”

Four years and three strikes later, exasperated and deflated, I filed the story away and forgot about it. But that’s the thing about freelancers. They never really forget. Even if they say they do, they don’t. Somewhere deep inside their scrambled minds, that still-brilliant/still-unpublished idea continues to emit a weak beep, out of sight but never quite dead in the water.

Seven years after filing that piece away, I dug it out again and realized it still had potential. Knowing in my writer’s soul that I should send it out again, I did and – sure enough – it was accepted for a fourth time.

Although grateful for another acceptance, I was disheartened by the monetary aspect of this strange saga. The first market had offered me $20 upon publication. The second one dropped it to $15. The third payment came in the form of a one-year subscription to the magazine. And the fourth periodical (can you guess?) offered me ZIP! At the rate things were going I had no doubt that, had a fifth acceptance come along, I would have been asked to pay THEM for the luxury of publication.

When my piece finally appeared in print, I proudly showed it to my now-grown-up son. After giving Henry a blow by blow account of its convoluted route to publication, I showed him the letter I’d found stuffed within the pages of one of my contributor copies.

“Dear Subscriber,” it began. “We regret to inform you that this will be the final issue of (said magazine).”

“Wow, Mom! Your article caused four magazines to fold,” Henry quipped with a grin.

My piece had seen publication, all right: but just barely! After it ran in 2004, I figured this particular chapter of my writing life had finally ended. But a writer’s world is full of unexpected twists and turns. Eleven years later, after querying Angela Hoy with my tale of thrice-thwarted/four-times-folded publication, I was thrilled to receive the go-ahead for a WritersWeekly feature about my article’s arduous journey. After 23 long years, my little piece had earned me a paycheck at last (She pays $60, which was 3 times higher than the highest offer!)

Experience has taught me that a writer must never give up on a good idea or an awesome manuscript. File it away for a time, if you must. Move on to a new project – or 20 new projects, if necessary – but don’t be afraid to circle back and give it another shot. The old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is as valid today as it ever was, and a good idea is always worth pursuing. Just bear in mind that, well . . . sometimes a story is jinxed.


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A freelance writer, piano teacher, mom and grandma, Wendy Hobday Haugh lives in upstate New York with her husband and two cats.

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5 Responses to "Did My Article Put FOUR Magazines Out of Business?! By Wendy Hobday Haugh"

  1. Pingback: Letters and Comments For 02/19/2016 | WritersWeekly.com

  2. pamelaallegretto  February 15, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the entertaining and uplifting article! You have proven that tenacity and faith in your writing skills pays off! Cheers!

  3. Cyndi Perkins  February 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Wendy, we’ve all been there. Thanks for sharing a fantastic example of the humor, patience and prevailing positivity required to make a go of freelancing. There have been times when I feared my profile person would DIE before an interview finally made it to print. The general public has no idea how long many submissions take to make it through the pipeline. At least the magazines who thwarted your publishing victory had a good excuse – folding – for not running your story. There is a special corner of publishing hell reserved for the worst offenders: magazine editors and publishers who run stories and don’t pay writers as promised. And there is a spacious lounge in heaven for publishers like Angela Hoy and those of her ilk who value, respect and champion ethical practices like paying writers a fair price on time!

    Wishing you the best, always, my fellow scribe!

  4. Mai Bantog  February 13, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Really fascinating story. I guess that jinx ends now, because there’s no way Writers Weekly is going to fold. 😉

  5. David McCaskill  February 12, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    That is an interesting journey. I was contacted by an editor in regard to publishing a post on one of my blogs. I wrote for fun so only asked for and received a couple of copies of Asian Entrepreneur, April 2000, with my full-page article. It was pretty exciting. I Googled the magazine a few years later. Unfortunately, it was now defunct. I joke that the circulation of 17,000 got to line the bottom of their bird cages with my work.