Have You Found Your Work in a Publication AFTER It Was Rejected? – by Kerry Martin Millan

Have You Found Your Work in a Publication AFTER It Was Rejected? – by Kerry Martin Millan

Have you heard about Wergle Flomp Poetry Competition? It was inspired by David Taub’s alto ego, Wergle Flomp. Despite penning the deliberately garbled monstrosity, Nicky Nacky Nu, Taub still managed to get published by the International Library of Poetry (a.k.a. poetry.com). Read David’s take on the now defunct poetry.com here.

Scams in the publishing industry have only multiplied over the years. And, the ways scammers have been conning writers and authors have become far more underhanded…and sophisticated.


Rejection is one of the worst, but most crucial, aspects of writing. In-depth feedback from an editor can tell you where you are going wrong, highlight bad habits, and inevitably make you a much better writer. It’s useful and diplomatic to take each rejection by the horns.

However, some rejections are not helpful at all. Rejections that anger me are the ones full of insulting epithets or shaming. Those may make writers avoid the publication’s website at all costs in the future. However, what if your story was never really rejected at all?

I received a rejection letter from a literary publication in 1998. Thinking nothing of it, I went on with my life. Fifteen years later, while doing a Google search of my name, I found my name and poems on the publication’s website. Unfortunately, I can’t sue them for copyright infringement now due to the statute of limitations.

Despite writer’s fears, this is relatively rare. My best advice is to periodically glance at publications that have rejected your work – just in case. Sometimes, the scam publishers will even change the writer’s name to make the articles more difficult for the victims to find.

If you are scammed in this manner, don’t hesitate to:

  1. Demand payment AND the removal of your work
  2. Send them an invoice for the unauthorized use of your copyrighted work
  3. Report them to the Better Business Bureau website


This problem in the industry is not so much a scam, but tends to waste writers’ time. When I read something like “500 Amazing Publications That Pay You,” I get a bit cynical. Often, links to these publications are mere data dumps, without any vetting process. Writers spend time crafting pitches, only to find the publication is defunct, or has certain limitations on submissions.

I sent submissions to two websites I found through one of those lists. When I took a closer look at the firms’ websites, however, I discovered that the latest articles were from 2018 and earlier. The best way to avoid disappointment is to check the latest article published, and contact the publication.

For some reason, many publications keep their websites running even if they’re no longer in business.


Problems concerning sites like Fiverr and Upwork have been written about a lot. One more added nuance to applying for jobs online using some sites for freelancers is that they may require tiered packaging for clients. It’s very difficult to quote a flat fee up front for writing jobs. The work and the client must first be assessed before you will have any idea of what the job will entail.


Finally, I was blacklisted by one publication for my political beliefs. But, they first gave me unacceptable work conditions in an attempt to make me quit. While it’s a publisher’s or editor’s prerogative on who they choose to work with, it is a good idea to avoid discussing politics in a business setting. And, if a publication is political in any way, don’t send them queries that will not adhere to their specific political ideas.


Kerry Martin Millan is a freelance journalist from Australia. She writes about health, social justice and freelance writing. Cooking and massage therapy helps with the ebbs and flows of writing.


2 Responses to "Have You Found Your Work in a Publication AFTER It Was Rejected? – by Kerry Martin Millan"

  1. Kerry Martin  August 26, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    Oh, I just read through your advice! Thanks for that. I am from Australia but predominately write in the US so this is handy. I’m assuming some of this info could apply to Australia though, as well.
    Thanks again.

  2. Bonnie Gabaldon  August 17, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Hello Kerry.

    Your article gives excellent advice on ways to mitigate the possibility of being scammed by a publisher.

    I’m a licensed Colorado attorney, and would like to add a word of advice regarding this subject. An expired statute of limitations doesn’t always bar you from bringing your case forward. There are exceptions to these statutes that vary by jurisdiction.

    A statute of limitations may be extended or tolled. Tolling legally suspends the time limitation, which allows a plaintiff to bring their case forward after the limitation has expired.

    Two of the exceptions to these statutes, depending upon your jurisdiction, are the discovery of harm rule and fraudulent concealment by the defendant to prevent a plaintiff from discovering the harm.

    Discovery of harm after the statute of limitations expires allows an injured party to bring their case forward, only if they could not have reasonably ascertained the injury and didn’t fail to exercise due diligence.

    My advice to any writer who discovers such an injury is to ask an attorney, or refer to their State Statutes regarding tolling exceptions in their jurisdiction.