In my early days as a writer, I had a lot of success in writing articles for the trade journals of my occupation. As a long time paramedic, I had the expertise to back up any of the articles that I submitted for publication. Each of the articles that were accepted ended up in the magazines pretty much exactly as submitted. Until this one…
The story goes like this:
I was all fat, dumb and happy. The query had received a positive response and I crafted the article. I sent the manuscript to the publication and waited for any suggested changes. One day, I popped over to the mailbox and saw the manila envelope from the publication. Finally! I could get this one done and move on to the next project. What happened next chilled me to the very core. Apparently the envelope had been mislabeled. This packet should have been addressed to the local Emergency Room because someone had bled all over the freaking thing. I blinked. I blinked again and tried to read the original article through the sea of red. Not an easy task. I was thinking that I must have sent an early draft version by mistake or something.
As I read, my initial chill turned to raging heat of volcanic proportions. It was indeed the manuscript I intended to send. Not a single typo in the thing. Not one. As it turns out, the red that covered the manuscript was designed by the editor to put the damned thing in HER voice! It was ugly from that point forward. She ignored what I had to say in discussions to the point where the article actually ended up being published with a huge factual error which caused me a bit of grief and embarrassment. The whole incident still pisses me off to this day.
Here’s the point:
This still happens although on a much smaller scale. Even on a small scale however, it still pisses me off. This has happened a few times when I’ve submitted guest posts to blogs. Here’s my take on the matter: If I have made grammatical errors or typographical errors, please correct them and thank you very much for doing so. If the tone of the article does not fit the web site then shame on me for not researching the site beforehand, please forgive me, send the article back and I will rewrite. But don’t you dare ever, EVER edit what I’ve submitted just so that you can hear the thing in your own writing voice. It’s mine, dammit. Not yours. If the tone fits the publication, the facts are accurate and the grammar is correct, leave it alone – you have no business touching the thing. Get off yourself and go check your ego in at some fleabag hotel, where it belongs.
I’m not one of those ego-maniacal writers who thinks their prose is above stinking. Far from it. But when I’ve worked diligently on a article and have proofed and checked until I’m blue in the face then it should stand on its own merit, above mentioned items notwithstanding.
So, I’m curious what other writers have to say about this. Have you ever been edited? If so, what was the experience like? Did the editor work with you to help craft a better article or did they just try to manipulate it into their own voice?