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Never Badmouth A Fellow Writer – Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Hi Anne,

I wanted to ask you a question about dealing with a particular editor. For over a year I have been writing blogs for a highly ranked travel blog. In fact I have been writing for them since they launched this particular blog. Recently I noticed that the editor who had been perfectly nice to me until now had begun to send delayed responses to my emails  with my blog post suggestions. In the meanwhile she had regularly begun to publish another writer’s posts quite often. I happen to know this writer as I have worked with her on another website and I also know that she quite blatantly plagiarizes content that already exists on the Internet.

Today I got an email from the editor informing that my services were no longer required. I had suspected this for a while especially since last month when this blog published one of my posts with another writer’s byline. Of course they quickly changed it when I raised a hue and cry. I have not replied to this email but I am tempted to write to this editor and inform her about the antics of her new favored writer but I am trying to control the urge as I don’t want to appear churlish.

I just had to write to you as I needed to vent and felt that you having been in the business for much longer would know how to tackle this situation which is causing me much grief and heartburn.

Do send me a reply when you have a moment.

Warm regards

Hi AN,

There’s never anything to be gained by badmouthing someone else, period. It only makes you look shabby and tarnishes your soul. So either don’t respond to the email that fired you or just reply something like: I got your message; I’ll miss working with you, and best of luck to you.

I say this even though I agree you were poorly treated. It’s also a shame that the writer they replaced with you has a history of plagiarism. But since that well ranked travel blog no longer wants you there’s not a thing you can do that will help you, or them. If you now report the plagiarizing writer it will only be seen as churlish as you suggest; they won’t listen, and even if they did take you back there would be an unease between you.

The way to get over the aggravation and heartburn is to forgive and move on, or move on and forgive. I know that’s easier said than done, particularly the forgiving part. I find I can help myself forgive someone when I just mentally send them loving kindness, even when, at first, I don’t really mean it.

Use the blog as a reference, link to your best there in your own credit list. Your work will speak for you.

Keep in mind too that this situation developed over a bit of time. It would have been perfectly acceptable to begin looking for replacement work the moment the editor stopped responding to you quickly; that’s usually a sign of trouble of some sort. We’ll never know why the editor decided to work with the other writer and, in truth, it’s really none of our business. Use this as a lesson to notice when relationships with editors begin to go downhill. Sometimes, early on, they can be rescued. Often, however, that’s the time to change jobs.

Good luck.



Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • My personal strategy is to wait a couple of weeks and then report the plagiarist to the editor anonymously, maybe with allusions to you being a major player among their target audience, and how much better you used to like the site.

    You gotta love the Internet.

  • admin

    Sometimes I have to give this advice to myself.

  • admin
  • Great advice Anne has given you. Things have a way of working out on their own. Unscrupulous practices such as using writers who plagiarize will catch up with both writer and blog editor in time. Move on, keep up your work with integrity and you will prevail.

    Any other recourse will only work to do you more harm than good.

    Doran Roggio’s last blog post..Punxsutawney Phil Predictions Proving True

  • Here’s another freelance etiquette question:

    I had a telephone interview with a prospective client, and at his request spent a few hours gathering statistical info on previous work I’d done. After I submitted the information to him, I never heard back from him.

    I ended up sending him a frank email saying that I was disappointed with him, and that since he was the CEO, it didn’t bode well for the company’s customer service, either.

    Should I have done it? It made me feel slightly better at the time, and I don’t mind if he tells others I wrote that. I’m fine with prospects not responding to initial contacts, but after you’ve done a phone interview and expended time and effort gathering material for them, I find it tacky of prospects not to at least say “Sorry, not interested.”


  • admin

    Jonathan… why didn’t I think of that – perfect. Love both of them… might even say both in an email if it were me 😉

  • Then again, you could always say something that could be interpreted two ways. For example:

    “I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed working with you.”

    “I’ll never work with someone of your caliber again.”

  • I agree with you, Anne. Choose your battles in life. It’s a matter of risk assessment. Would responding in kind have helped the writer? Probably not. And, the editor, who may have a little bit further reach than a single writer, may respond by upping the ante by and spreading the word that the writer is difficult to work with, or something like that. I don’t recommend being a doormat, but you are correct when you say that even if the matter was resolved and the writer continued to have a relationship with the company, it would almost undoubtedly be strained. The writer should just move on and find a better people to work with.

  • I’m in agreement here – there is nothing that can be gained at this point. It is time to move on. I WOULD respond with something good, positive and uplifting. There may not be any hard feelings and a strong last letter could leave an impression that opens the door to future possibilities.

  • Reread this line from Anne: Your work will speak for you.

    Look around your office. What projects are on your desk? What paychecks are in your account? What editors have sent you kind words?


  • There’s a lot of transience in the freelance life, and you have to keep adding clients to your roster, because clients drop off.

    You were treated badly, but, in my opinion, you’re well rid of the place. If they use plagiarized content, they will quickly fall from being so highly-ranked, and you’re better off not being around when the *** hits the fan.

    Graciously acknowledge the cut-loose email, take your clips, and move on. There’s plenty of work out there; it’s just a case of hunting it down. Of course you’re hurt and angry — it’s natural. Vent to your support group, write in your journal. Take the high road in public — it serves you better in the long run.

    Best of luck.

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