View Full Version : Advice on Publishing Assistant Situation

12-08-2008, 08:01 PM

I was hoping to get advice on a situation I just found myself in.

I'm trying to publish a first book of poetry. While I know about contests and major reading periods, I know less about what academic presses will accept poetry queries year-round and things like that. I hired someone to research that for me. I'm not rich (shocking to hear from a poet), but I was in a position to have more expendable cash than free time, so I figured it was worth paying someone a few hours to make a list.

Specifically, I said:

What I want you to do should be pretty basic. I'd like a list of
publishers that accept poetry manuscripts (or proposals for poetry
books) year-round, even from poets who haven't put out a book before.
I like academic presses, so start there, please.

There was a little more info about my genre, but it was clear that I was asking for year-round publishers.

She sent the list today, and there are almost no year-round presses on it. She gave me the same reading period info I already had. I know she worked hard on the research, but she neglected one of the big things I had asked for in particular.

I don't know what to do about this--I don't quite want to pay the total amount since I'm not getting what I specifically asked for, but I don't know how to handle it. What would be the fair way to handle this?

12-08-2008, 08:49 PM
For me it would depend on whether there's a clear statement that she looked for year-round publishers but couldn't really find any. If that's the case it's not a matter of ignoring instructions and I'd say spring for the full amount.

Otherwise I'd ask why not before remitting full payment.

12-08-2008, 09:12 PM
Thanks, Dave!

Well, I should add that I already figured out what caused the mistake. When she sent me the document that had the publishers listed, at the top of the document was a list of the questions I'd asked her to consider about the press (I'd told her to see if their books were really ugly, for instance, or if they had preferences for writers of a certain demographic). She listed the year-round thing as one of those questions, which made it look like it was an optional thing I just wanted to know rather than something I'd clearly indicated was mandatory. If she went by that list, I can easily see how the error would have been made.

When I gave her instructions, the year-round thing was clearly set-up as the thing I was looking for with the other stuff sort of being helpful things to know.

She seems pretty honest, so I've considered just explaining this and seeing what she suggests, but I would like to at least have some idea of what I think would be a good idea before I even begin a conversation about this.

12-09-2008, 09:08 PM
One option would be going back to her and explaining that she didn't really do what you'd asked, and would she take another stab at it? You could tell her that you've determined where the confusion arose, but your initial request did ask for year-round publications.

12-09-2008, 11:18 PM
^^ Thanks! She said she can't spend any more time on it now and would be ok with me just paying her what is fair for the ones I can use from her list. I know it's not my fault, but I still feel really bad because she did work hard, just not at what I'd asked for.