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1.20.2009

Editorial Advice

It surprises me when I read articles from those who edit about the behavior of some writers. Jeff VanderMeer put together an interesting post on this topic over at Ecstatic Days (a great daily read, by the way). Frankly, I'm shocked that some of these things happen to editors frequently enough to make a list. All this bellyaching about revisions and rejections surprises me because:
  1. Why burn that bridge by questioning a rejection? Why close a door on what could be a productive collaboration in the future? Art is subjective. If a piece doesn't strike a chord with a particular editor, move on to the next market.
  2. Why dump on folks whose work advances the field? Editors, from what I can gather, aren't the superstars of this here publishing food chain, pilgrim. They work long hours. The monetary compensation can be thin. The folks who give of their time and energy to create something worth reading deserve more than surly missives back in their inboxes. And again, if a piece doesn't strike a chord with a particular editor, move on to the next market.
  3. Why not try to improve the piece? Granted, not every suggestion merits approval, but writing is a give-and-take proposition. You wage this same battle with yourself (or at least you should) before you ever send a story into the world for consideration. So why is it any different in working with an editor? If you don't like the suggestions (if they don't strike a chord with you), move on to the next market!

I've spent the last week working with editors on a pair of stories. The tales are much improved for the extra attention, and I'm indebted to these individuals for their insights. I also received a rejection with a very specific set of notes. The editor invited me to try again if the piece took these insights under advisement. I've since played these comments over in my mind a couple of times; I revisited the piece and made substantial changes, tightening the piece and broadening its scope, I think.

I'll take another pass at it later in the week and then re-submit, thankful for the time and energy devoted to improving the work.

Every writing process is unique, of course. This is just my two cents. But if an editor is willing to be generous and specific with his or her criticism of your writing, why kill the goodwill with an adversarial attitude?

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