I cannot get on board with this post. I take issue with it more as an editor than a writer.
- Did you check to make sure that your piece was significantly different than what was published? Anytime you have a popular publication, you are going to be drowning in submissions. My highest earning post (second to the one that was published on ZORA) was not submitted there. Still at the top of Google’s first page, I just wanted to publish it on my own. I am still surprised by the way it blew up. I found out a few months later that someone else wrote a post on ZORA about a topic similar to my own, which has also done well. Too often writers do not pay attention to what is already on the publication before submitting their own pieces.
- Do you realize that you being a woman of African descent does not automatically entitle you to be published there? I went through similar frustrations with an animal-friendly publication. I thought since I was a vegetarian, a black one at that, that they obviously would want my work. They were honest and said the kind of piece I wrote had not done well when published previously. But I was so hung up on “But I am a vegetarian!” and did not think enough about what has been a hit for their readers.
- How long have you been a writer outside of Medium? I have worked for a few newspapers and magazines over the years. We ditched pitches every day. You are not a professional writer until you have some rejection letters under your belt. There is this entitled belief that in the digital age, people must like your content and want it. But there are a handful of publications on Medium who turned down a post of mine, and I just chalked it up to the game. I had one editor tell me “I’ll allow it" as though he was doing me some great big favor. I snatched the post out of that publication because I did not care for his tone. I published it elsewhere.
- Would you write a piece like this if it was not a minority female publication? Over the past few days, I have been pondering over a discussion I had regarding “Insecure" on HBO and wishing I had not said a few things. I think I was overly hard on the show as a black woman and should have given them some leeway. If you are not this mad about other publications not accepting your work, did you ever wonder why is that? Why knock the one publication dedicated to black women when a slew of Medium sites may also be rejecting pieces written by black women on here? I can think of a major one right now but will not air them out.
Now full disclosure, the very first piece I wrote and the reason I joined Medium was due to ZORA. Vanessa accepted my pitch quickly (although a bit gruff in her response) and published it shortly after for a surprisingly high flat rate that I did not expect. But I had multiple pieces I pitched afterward rejected with a “thanks for thinking of us.”
A wee bit flustered about it, I remembered this was no different than ANY OTHER rejection for the entirety of my writing career. I started “I Do See Color" and wrote a piece I thought would work well. Interestingly one of the ZORA editors (not one you tagged) reached out to ask if she could edit it to republish it there. I opted out. The story was too personal to me and I wanted nothing changed. She understood. In this case, I rejected them and they did not take it personal. They know, and I know, that no one is obligated to publish your work.
I have since talked to that editor about a piece she wanted to publish on her own but wanted to know more about my area of expertise (in dog caregiving) and do not know what she ended up doing with it. But still, to say that ZORA excludes women of color is just flat-out untrue. Your real issue is that they excluded you and you took that way too personally. If you want to write for the long haul, you are going to have to toughen up. It is just part of the industry we are in.