Hidden and not so hidden pitfalls in getting published

Hi everyone,

I mentioned that on the book with Tim Rasinski and Mary Jo Fresch our editor asked that I replace one of my poems. Here’s why. The poem deals (humorously) with a pig getting turned into a ham. The editor doesn’t want to offend Jews and Muslims and says that with that poem left in, the book could not be sold internationally. I’m solving the problem by replacing the pig with a chicken.

Back in the 1960-70s, one of my jobs as a greeting card editor/manager was to be sensitive to issues like this. If you walk into a card shop looking for a card for a special person, you’ll only have a few choices. Hallmark wanted to make sure that none of those choices was offensive based on religious beliefs, gender, or race. Over the years I judiciously avoided taboo subjects and references. I’m still aware of these pitfalls as a writer, we all are, but now I need to add a new one — pigs to ham. I’m passing this along for what it may be worth to you. It’s hard enough to write a manuscript that an editor can use. Avoiding no-no subjects in the first place, or failing to treat them with proper respect, can save writers a lot of frustration, particularly if they don’t understand why their work was turned down.