This rant has been building for some time now. And for their part, I have seen editors post and publish thorough guides to the story publishing process which have eliminated some of the madness. It hasn’t eliminated all the madness, otherwise I wouldn’t be mad enough to rant and publishers wouldn’t be the target I’m tossing my grenade at.
Sometimes, publishers SUCK.
There’s a familiar saying that warns against biting the hand that feeds you. I’m ignoring the warning signs like there are no sharks in the water. Just because I’m a stone’s throw from being recognized pro doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop being me. I’ve seen their detailed, thorough explanations about the business end of storytelling and after reading all that, I still say they have no excuse for a couple things:
Tell me no already
C’mon, publisher. It’s the Digital Age. Electrons move at 186,000 miles per second. How you peddlin’ science fiction, visions of the future, faster-than-light travel, and it takes you damn near a year to read and respond to a story? It should only take this long if you’re telepathically training psycho-squirrels to run across the keyboard in patterns that forms words. Even space chimps could tell me “no” faster than that.
There are some pro sites that only take two days… count ‘em two, to tell you no. I know they get hundreds if not thousands of submissions on a weekly basis, I know they’re not reading them all beyond the first two lines… but you know what, I ain’t mad at em. They know what they want. They’re not trying to build a lifelong bond between the silent space between the time I sent them a story and the time they tell me to get lost. My first two lines weren’t dressed sharp enough. It’s rejection I can live with.
Still on Snail Mail
Who you trying to convince about the awesomeness of your non-electronic business model? Do you tell yourselves you only take mailed hardcopy submissions because it’s a long running tradition at your publishing house? I’m reasonably sure if you did accept someone’s mailed hardcopy, you’d email them and tell them “congratulations… now could you send us an electronic copy?”
Let’s be honest here, the only reason you’d rather waste trees and increase our carbon footprint is because you have a fear that once you start taking electronic submissions every aspiring hack with an internet connection will send their crap manuscripts to you.
And you’re right. But guess what; aspiring hacks who believe in their crap manuscript will believe in it enough to carry their hack asses to the post office. I know I have, with my manuscript and SASE included.
I don’t do that anymore, not unless something extra special comes along. Why? I look at it like this; I have to pay for the envelope for the manuscript, the paper and ink to print it, and I have to pay to ship it, to include the stamp on the self addressed stamp envelope… just so I can wait a dog’s age for the damn notice to come back, with a form letter telling me better luck next time like it was a losing bottle cap. At least with the losing bottle cap, I can wash down the rejection with the carbonated beverage of my choice. Here, your letter is looking at me from an envelope I procured on postage I paid for. I just paid you to tell me no.
You want smart, savvy literature… tell me publisher, what smart, savvy person is going to pay you to tell them no when they can get told no for free at an e-publishing site? And they wonder why some of the traditionals are closing their doors after so many years…