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October 2nd, 2010

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10:11 pm - Dear Author....
Today, I'm coming to you with my editor hat on. Admittedly, it's not a great editor hat; it's barely broken in, still chafes at times, and may or may not have a price tag hidden under the brim. But it's an editor hat.

In the course of reading submissions for an anthology, I received a story. No big deal. Well-written, but ... Well, let's say for the sake or argument that I was looking for three particular things in every story. A theme, a kind of content, and a kind of tone. The guidelines were very clear about this. And this story failed on 2 1/2 of those criteria. It lacked everything I said I wanted, even if I was being generous. So I rejected it.

"But Michael," you say, "that's pretty much a normal thing for the slush pile. People don't get it. They don't read guidelines. You chuck them out the door and move to the next one."

Yes, that's what you do. I rejected the story and that was that. Until the author wrote me back to thank me for the reply ... and said "No harm in trying."

No harm? I suppose not. No real harm. I'm not going to burn down your house for a bad story, or blacklist you, or have your dog kidnapped and sent to Siberia. No one suffered injury, the world didn't slow down for even a second, and that black hole's no closer to swallowing us all. But mark my words, there was harm. Potential harm to your career.

Editors remember these things. This author will forever more be "That guy who sent me a story that was utterly incompatible with my needs because he didn't really care about the guidelines, suitability, or market." I might not remember him specifically, but the name will likely ring a bell if it turns up again.

Editors talk. We're only human, we gossip about the good, the bad, and the spectacular flame-outs. How many times do you pull this sort of thing before you get a rep as "The guy who flings trunk stories at any market that stands still, but doesn't know how to read guidelines, and doesn't care?"

Editors get around. Sooner or later, you'll end up doing this to an editor, who might move into a position where you need that goodwill, and it'll be lacking. Say goodbye to that market for your first novel.

"But Michael," you say, "these are all worst case scenarios, and certainly you're exaggerating and over-blowing it."

Perhaps so. But still, dear author, don't be that guy. Don't be the one who fails at meeting every single criteria laid out on the guidelines. Or I'll mock you again. In French.
Current Mood: geekygeeky

(17 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 3rd, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah. Nothing wrong with a quick, polite, professional, and/or friendly note to the editor, as appropriate to your relationship with them, letting them know you appreciate their work. Editors also remember people who are professional and cooperative. :>

There's nothing wrong with trunk stories, persay, IF they're appropriate. If I'm editing Like A Cold, Dead Hand: Erotic Zombie lesbian stories, and for whatever reason, you -have- an erotic lesbian zombie story sitting around, it's fine to send it in. But that doesn't mean send in your Ayn Rand gay werewolf pastiche instead....

Hm. I need to stop getting ideas.

I kid, I kid.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:October 3rd, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
If someone writes a gay werewolf Ayn Rand pastiche, I will disavow all knowledge of ever voicing these words.

Cecilia says Circlet won't do a zombie erotica book. I say she just hasn't seen the right proposal yet. Muahahahahahaha.
[User Picture]
Date:October 3rd, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
Keep at her. When I first started working there she said we'd never do horror but then as you saw at the retreat she green lighted the erotic horror anthology. :) Just show her the facts and numbers supporting that such an anthology would be fruitful.
[User Picture]
Date:October 3rd, 2010 05:39 am (UTC)
Let's see if I can survive Like A Cunning Plan first. :> Though if someone else takes up the zombie championing flag in the meantime, I'll happily pitch in on brainstorming ways to make it Circlet-worthy. I like a challenge.
[User Picture]
Date:October 4th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Griffin's already done a collection of zombie romance: HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE, edited by Lori Perkins. It's just a small step from there ...

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