I suppose this can be considered a sister to yesterday’s post (I Will Not Pay You To Read My Story). Since the end of December, I have been in a back and forth with a quarterly literary journal. They asked for a story which I happily offered and publication was agreed upon. I hadn’t heard much back but my contact at the journal was looking into it and he was nothing but helpful. He finally heard back from the editors above him and two or three (the number escapes me at the moment) sent some comments and suggestions back. I agreed with some and vetoed others and I sent a second draft back. It wasn’t any heavy lifting and they had made a couple of good points. We were still waiting back for the last editor’s comments.
Let me sidetrack for a moment and say: I am skeptical of journal editors who engage in far too much editing. By that I mean, in regards to literary magazines and journals there should only be light editing when necessary. Editors should be supportive and want to work with you and publish your work in its finest form. Everyone should shine.
Now, back to our story. My helpful and attentive contact was trying to hear back from the final editor but he was having trouble contacting her. As a reminder, I was asked in December and now it is March. I had not concerned myself too much because I knew it would get done. The editors seemed placated. The other day, I finally received the hold-out’s edits. I started to look through them. She immediately wanted to re-title it with far worse titles (this is always a red flag!!). Her line edits were terrible and then I realized she clearly had never read the revised addition and was commenting on an old draft. I stopped reading.
With the exception of my contact, this gaggle of editors was a complete horror show! They were completely unprofessional and their comments, quite frankly, were rubbish (which is unfortunate because this is a well-regarded journal). I suppose my point is, it doesn’t matter how far you are along with your writing and/or publishing career, you should not have to compromise what you think is right or you are comfortable with. You should not have to change your story or poem or essay to accommodate a group of unprofessional knuckleheads. Send your writing some place else where they aren’t running a dog and pony show. I have had plenty of wonderful experiences with editors who offer constructive feedback and edits. Remember, it’s never a good sign if they are hard to reach, unprofessional, trying to chop up your story, etc. YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE A SUBMISSION BACK!
I have grappled with the idea of posting my email to them. I will not name names out of decorum even though I would never again recommend this publication to a single friend of mine. I hope by including this email, it can remind others in similar predicaments that they don’t have to stand for crummy editors but do remember that you should not burn bridges. Don’t roll over but do let them know what is problematic. Take back your story immediately and send it some place else.
Okay, look, I’m annoyed but please keep in mind that my annoyance is not with you at all. I already sent back edits which this person clearly did not read. I am disregarding all of her edits including wanting to change the title. The title shall not be changed. She can refer to the draft I last sent you if she would like to notate that. I don’t mind doing a little bit of house cleaning (some of which I definitely agreed with in that previous round; they made good points which I had already been thinking of). I have never worked with a journal/magazine/publisher that demanded so many edits from a short story (and an extremely short story to boot). So with that said, they can take it as is with what I sent the other time or pass. I haven’t had this much rigmarole with editors before…I don’t have time for unprofessionalism.
p.s. and they should know better than to ask a writer to change a title unless it’s a story about getting my period and I’ve titled it “Crimson Tide.”
**Just as a disclaimer, I personally know my contact, so the post script–meant in all seriousness to this particular gaggle of editors–might only be appropriate because of my aforementioned friendship with the contact.**