I received a submission for an article and had an interesting reaction from an author’s publicist. The article was very short, and read: The Power of Reflexology to Transform Your Life (272 Words) In these stressful and uncertain times, isn’t it comforting to know that there is a centuries-old practice that can be profoundly calming and therapeutic? Congratulations! You’ve just discovered Reflexology. You’ve probably heard about it, but may not be exactly sure what it entails. Reflexology, is “an art and a science that is based on the principle that there are reflex points and areas in the feet that correspond to every organ, gland and part of the body,” according to ______ (the author of this article) , an internationally-renowned practitioner of Reflexology. There are nearly 15,000 nerves in the feet that innervate and soothe nerves throughout the body. Stimulating key pressure points on the feet strengthens the nervous system, immune system and circulatory system as well as the other systems in the body. There are also reflex points and areas on the ears and hands which, by skillful stimulation with hand, finger and thumb techniques, facilitate the body systems to greater balance. Reflexology is known to reduce physical and emotional stress, relieve pain, aid in overcoming addictions, and increase energy and focus. Evidence has shown Reflexology to cleanse toxins, assist with weight management, promote creativity, enhance fertility, improve circulation as well as providing an overall sense of well being. Reflexology – an ancient healing art available right now when we need it most. (end of article)
Andrea responded: K, hello and thanks for writing. We’re unable to use your article at this time. Bless you for the work you do. (signed) Andrea
K wrote back: Would you be able to use it in the near future? Is there something that does not apply to your guidelines?
I almost left it at that, but something told me to help her out and let her know exactly why I could not use it, and make some suggestions that might help her in the future. I replied: Hi, it’s just not of enough interest to me. That’s no reflection on the author, it’s simply not worded – in those 272 words – in a way that keeps my attention. I’d suggest when you send it elsewhere to talk about how it transformed someone’s life, since that’s in the title. I’m familiar with reflexology and know it as a miracle worker, but if I did not know about it, I’d read the piece differently. I’d want a case study I could relate to, what their problems were beforehand, what lifestyle caused the problems, what she experienced in session and what the results were along the way, and the final result. I’d want a little chart showing the points and I’d like an exercise I can do on myself using reflexology, even something simple. Something so that, when I put the article down, I will have taken something away from it, something lasting I could do to enhance well being on my own. And again, no reflection on the writer’s skills, the article just didn’t tickle my fancy.
K replied: WOW, it was just an email, it was not supposed to reflect what it was supposed to look like in the magazine.
Andrea: I’m sorry, I thought that was the entire article, not just an email.
K: I don’t recall that being in your guidelines. I have been a graphic designer for 24 years and I assure I can certainly lay out a decent article design, but again, it was not part of your guidelines and since you do the layouts as well i assumed you just wanted the text… not artistic design. Perhaps you should reword your guidelines to be more specific.
Andrea: Do you mean the reflexology chart? That was not the big issue.
K: I actually took the lead from the August 2009 issue and saw nothing of what you are talking about. some of your very advice sounds like the article should contain self promotion which your guidelines say you don’t allow in articles as it sounds more like an advertisement, which again I took under consideration. I saw no charts in any of the articles I observed either.
Andrea: Ah, it is about the chart, the chart was not the big issue. Showing the points would have simply been helpful and made it more interesting. Yes, my suggestions may sound self promoting but other magazines don’t care about that. They are your market. I am giving you suggestions so you may send a more engaging piece when you submit to them, something that has a chance of being run. I believe you just misunderstood my response.
K: i have to say that coming from such a spiritual source and a voice I heard some decent things about I am quite taken back. and I would think that sure you are the editor/publisher, but I would hope you would want to tickle your readers fancy, not just your own.
Andrea: Taken aback by what? Don’t believe everything everyone tells you, good or bad. My mission is to give readers the tools to become aware of their own power in order to create a better tomorrow for themselves. I want them to be entertained and to find the subject matter interesting. I have many friends who submit articles that I cannot run; that can make me unpopular. I’m not here to be popular, I’m here to empower and cheerlead.
Many excellent speakers are not good writers, my friends among them. It just doesn’t translate. Many popular teachers don’t really have much new to say, but are popular since people are entertained by them. Couple someone who has a good topic with having a compelling voice as a writer, and that’s the article I want my readers to see.
I get a lot of reader feedback. It keeps me doing what I do.
K: perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for you.
Andrea: It was not my intention to tick you off. I answer so many emails each day that if I sounded abrupt, I apologize. I just wanted to quickly give you some suggestions for fine tuning your piece for your next submission. Tomorrow will be a better day for everyone. Andrea
K’s next email said: This was a very nice email, thank you for that! So, shall I take your suggestions and resubmit? Also, just to add a bit of humor here, since we got off to a tough start, do you use/need freelancers for your layout and or writing (btw, I did not write the article I sent).
and yep, it is a better day… thanks again (end of K email)
When I give a rejection, I generally don’t go into a lot of detail why unless someone asks for it. It’s like any other relationship: sometimes you click, sometimes you don’t, sometimes it fades for one before the other, no blame to either party. I’ve never had someone snap at me like that, but it was clear she misunderstood me and we’re cool now and long past it.
It would be easy to write, if you’re a publicist contacting me about running your client’s work, the less snarky you are, the better. But I don’t think she meant to be snarky. It was just an automatic reaction on her part, and she wrote back out of her emotional reaction. Our automatic emotional reactions show us what we really think and believe. And we don’t always hear what others are saying. I was offering concrete helpful suggestions, but she was hearing criticism.
In any disagreement, I always consider that I may be wrong. That helps me keep my eyes and ears open so I can continue to grow and learn.
So, were either of us out of place in what we said to each other?
You tell me.
Afternote: I later went to the author’s website and saw she had several good articles which included charts. I did not get one of those.