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The below is a response from a leading UK lesbian e-magazine in reply to my email, including submission, asking what the next step was if they wished to publish my work…

Hi Emily,

Currently, the arrangement we have with contributors is that they contribute articles to our site for free. In return we link through to their website which drives traffic their way.

One of the contributors was “astonished” as she had thousands of people click through to her website per day. 

She couldn’t stop shouting about it on Twitter.

What I suggest is sent through some more articles, and we’ll see how they do. Thereafter we will review about taking you on at a later date.

What are your thoughts? Does this sound like a plan? Or did you have something else in mind?

I look forward to your reply.

*** – Editor 

Dear ***

Thank you so much for your reply. I can’t tell you how rare it is to submit a piece of work, the completion of which took not only time
but also care, consideration and research, and have someone like yourself over at ******** respond directly a mere 11 days after having already published my piece on your website without agreeing any terms.

As a writer, clearly my one joy in life is a narcissistic craving for people to look at my words and think “wow, this girl must be awesome”. Something which can be achieved by, as you say, providing links to websites etc so that people can come and look at how awesome I am. Unfortunately, you’ll note I’m not selling anything and don’t have a website, so you therefore can’t fob me off with this bullshit excuse to not pay for content. I do have social media sites which were included with my byline, but as you didn’t include this in my article, this is invalid. 

I note I now have a “profile” on your website which, despite my sending you my headshot and links to my Twitter/Facebook remains blank except for plain text without hyperlinks. We both know this will deliver almost zero traffic to my sites. Besides, I do not write for this reason… I write for an income. And I’m damn good at it. I added you to my submissions list to try to widen my portfolio of clients, not to gift you my work. 

It’s interesting to note that this “pay writers with a byline” is usually a trick used by smaller companies and not reputable ones like yourselves. The impression this gives me is that you aren’t actually generating the income/resources you need to pay a writer what could be as little at £20 for exclusive use of an online article. Which doesn’t exactly break the bank. I’m sorry to note your financial struggles. 

As talented writers struggle to move from the “Artist” category to the “professional” category, it’s like an e-kick-in-the-balls when someone takes your piece, publishes it, and then tells you that (lucky me!) I’m now joining the ranks of the other lucky literary folks who have given you content for zero return.

You also changed the piece, and misunderstood a section – you got “HBE” wrong and assumed this to be a different character, then went on to edit and upload the change without checking with me. Making us both look a little silly. The lesbian community will be frowning quizzically at this and assuming that neither I nor ****** have any idea what they’re doing.

This sort of professional shruggery is just the sort of standard I’m coming to expect from organisations who expect to acquire their “product” for free. Please remove all of my work from your website, immediately. I have offers for this (excellent) piece with ****.com and ********.com who, shockingly, pay people for their work. It doesn’t cost them much, but respects the professional exchange that builds the foundation of loyal relationships and the continual submission of high quality work. A win win. 

Asking writers to gift you their work for exposure is beyond cheeky. But since we’re at it, I enclose some of my works-in-progress for you as I note you are an editor. Luckily, I’m looking for someone to spend some time and skill proof reading and editing them, and I’ve chosen you to do this for me. For free! This is a great opportunity, because I’ll put your name and email at the bottom, which will get you all sorts of benefits. One woman who did this for me couldn’t stop shouting at me on Twitter. No need to thank me.

I look forward to receiving your notes back on my attached pieces – “A Non-Brief History Of Gay Activists And Their Pets, 1920-Present” and “If Women Are Always Right, Who Wins Lesbian Arguments?” 

Have a great week. If you wish to keep my piece “****** ******** ****” on ********.co.uk then you will need to edit it to the original that I sent you, and provide me with your accounts teams email address to Invoice them appropriately. 

Take care,