Article Black Holes

Q: I submitted two stories to a nursing magazine after consulting the editor in advance. I was told the stories were accepted, and one would appear in August. So far, no sign of my story, and when I tried to follow-up with e-mails and phone calls, my messages weren’t answered. What more can I do?—Anonymous

A: Editors change plans sometimes and bump stories for more time-sensitive matter, so it’s not overly surprising that your article didn’t run in its originally scheduled month. But if they aren’t responding to your correspondence, there’s reason for concern.
What you can do depends on the stipulations of the contract you signed. If the contract states you get paid upon acceptance, then you should’ve been paid by now. If the contract has a 25 percent kill fee and your story’s been killed, you should get that money. If you don’t receive a check and they won’t return your calls, seek legal counsel.

If you didn’t sign a contract with the magazine, you’re unfortunately stuck with your hospital gown wide open in the back, and there’s little you can do. The best move is to politely e-mail the editor and withdraw your articles from consideration unless you receive a contract or notification about them by a specific date. This could lose you the job, but if you’re being ignored then there’s really nothing to lose. And you can shop your article again. Or, hey, maybe the editor will begin responding.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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