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Category: editing

Independent Editing

Growing up, I was always a huge fan of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Michael Crichton–as authors went, those guys wrote the books and had the careers I wanted. Later, that list grew to include Neil Gaiman and myriad others. By then I’d grown serious about wanting to be a writer–even if I wasn’t yet serious about writing itself–and I’d begun to learn more about publishing. I’d begun to pick up writing magazines like Digests and Journals, and by the time I was a freshman in college I’d started submitting queries to literary agents. I didn’t know much about what publishing meant or what a contract might be, but I understood that, at least at that time, getting an agent was the first step in a long process that would hopefully ultimately culminate in a “very nice” publication contract, which means one for go-jillions of moneys.

Interestingly, as digital publishing has become a force of disruption, a lot of that is no longer true. If you want to get a book to readers, you can now, at least digitally, go through Amazon and Apple and Kobo to deliver ebooks to their stores. For that, you no longer need an agent. You no longer need a publisher, whether a huge corporation or a smaller press–you can do it yourself. Provided, if you want to get your book on shelves in a bookstore, you do for the most part still need to get an agent who will submit your manuscript to publishers, but at this point, it’s almost smarter to go to Amazon and Apple and Kobo and everyone else first. By publishing independently and getting books out there, you start to build a reputation (a name, a “platform,” a “brand”), and while the reputation you build may or may not lead to the sort of arrangement that gets your print books to bookstore shelves, who knows if that’s necessary?

The interesting thing to me is that the single most important element of publishing, whether with a corporation or on your own, remains, even if it’s the single element some people never even really consider, and one of which I wasn’t even aware until I started putting together a collection.

I’m talking about editing. And I wondered today if editing is going to change as much as publishing has–and if that may be one of the best aspects of all.

Let’s be honest: there are a few examples of editorial relationships that have become almost mythical. The most major is F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maxwell Perkins, which was perhaps a fine a partnership as could be, and which produced The Great Gatsby from Trimalchio in West Egg. There’s also Raymond Carver and Gordon Lish, which you can read more about here, at the New Yorker, as it discusses how Lish made “Beginners” into “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”

It’s certainly a better title. Better story? Unsure. What’s “better” mean? Is there such a thing?

That’s digression.

Editing is a nuanced beast. I used to be an editor, of two clinical nursing journals, and I totally sucked at it. My red pen was heavier than the stock on which the journals were printed. I changed authors’ words without regard to their voice, always confident that, regardless of what they were trying to say, I could make it better. I think, for a long time, too, my lack of skill at editing made me think it wasn’t as necessary as it certainly is.

And then I realized, when I went to USC, that besides wanting to get published I could be a better writer.

When I published a collection of stories, essays, and poetry back in early 2007, I asked one of my classmates to look it over, in exchange for dinner and drinks. She agreed, and gave me some great notes on how to improve the collection. I sheepishly admit I didn’t take all her changes, but the changes I did make made the work better. If I’d been less insecure at the time, I might have realized that.

That same classmate–who’d since become my friend, and then my fiancee, and who is now my wife–edited Meets Girl, nearly four years later. By then we were living together, and I’d just gotten a Kindle and realized I could make this digital thing work, as I knew a little about html and coding. So she did, and there I took all her advice, and Meets Girl is way better for it.

Along the way, I’ve actually become better, myself, at editing, though I don’t edit my own work. I mean, I read over it and polish it as much as I can, but in the end I agree with the general sentiment that we writers are too close to our own work to effectively either see its flaws or understand how improve them. I’ve worked with a few of the authors Exciting has signed, and in so doing have preserved their voices and helped them make their books fulfill their vision, and I think that’s way more important than making them “better.”

Corporate publishers and those associated with them often claim the books produced by their process are better. They are the keepers of the gate through which they will not allow riffraff to pass, after all, and they claim that the work they do is essential to “literature” or “culture” or just making the reading experience as good as it can possibly be.

I don’t think they are. I don’t think corporations or agents are really necessary.

I think editors are, and sometimes I think the best editors are no longer tied up in that system.

We’ve all heard horror stories about that system. The author whose book is acquired by one editor who leaves for a different publisher just a couple months later, so the book gets passed on to another editor–and oftentimes these editors don’t actually do the hands-on work. I worked with a managing editor on those journals, and that editor often lamented to me that the time she got to spend actually editing had decreased as years had passed. A lot of editors at corporations are too busy attending meetings with marketing and promotions and managing profits and loss sheets to actually spend their time with the words. Not all, mind you, but a lot. And when that happens, they delegate the editing itself to their assistant, or maybe give the new intern a chance, or frequently they have a roster of freelance editors they use fairly often and they send the manuscript to them.

As publishing companies have incorporated and then become parts of conglomerates, their focus on great writing has declined while their focus on profits, revenue, and the bottom line has increased. That’s just the nature of operating businesses like they are.

What that yields, though, is an opportunity for authors and editors alike: independent editing. Independent authors need independent editors. Maybe even the same independent editors who make up that roster of freelance editors I just mentioned. Maybe that’s a great development, too, because maybe an author has a better chance of developing the sort of relationship that makes Trimalchio in West Egg into The Great Gatsby with an independent, freelance editor.

The other day, I mentioned a positive review from Shannon Yarbrough at the LL Book Review. Today, I’m going to mention a few others, and make an announcement about something I’m rather excited about.

Today, Raych at Books I Done Read gave it high-caterpillar review. A juicy blurb:

Silly and poignant and real … totally hilarious … basic love story meets girl Tarot card battle royale

Now, Raych disclaims: if you’ve finished Meets Girl, you know that Raych gets a shout-out at the conclusion. Some people might fear some lack of objectivity.

I don’t. I started reading Raych’s blog pretty much as soon as she started it, and I love what a fool she is, and by fool, I mean the n’uncle sort, who says perhaps many nonsensical things and who maybe distracts you with the bouncy jingle balls on his hat but is, often, the wisest person in the room. The canniest. The one who knows what’s what.

I felt the same thing about Veronica’s brother Tom, in the novel. I could see his band–Foolish–doing something silly and poignant and real. Some of what I think are exactly those moments in the novel–the ones that are silly and poignant and real–belong to Tom. When Tom handed our young hero-narrator Foolish’s CD, I saw him offering one with a jaunty, silly, hand-crayoned cover because leave it to the wise-fool to leave the name of the band off.

So it fit, and when I needed a title for that album, I cribbed Raych’s blog.

She doesn’t seem to have minded. Thank goodness. I’m glad she didn’t sue my ass. For cookies. Because who’d sue a broke-ass grad student/novelist/professor/personal trainer for money?

I do wonder about objectivity. Not Raych’s. Just in general. Like, is anyone objective anymore?

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I posted that picture of edited pages on the day I got the book back from my editor. This week, in between training clients and completing MBA coursework, I’ve revised.

Like crazy. The novel now clocks in around 77,000 words, which means my editor and I hacked off 7,000. Which is not bad, considering Stephen King’s once-maxim that the final draft = first draft minus 10%.

My editrix? Awesome. She gets it and, more importantly, doesn’t let me get away with anything (and Lord knows I’m always trying). I think a good editor makes sure you’ve got nothing up your sleeve when you go out onstage, which just makes the magic even better when the writer carries it off.

I’m excited. I won’t say I nailed it, or it’s great–that’ll be left for you to decide–but I am proud of it. I’d want a copy on my bookshelves.

The plan is Meets Girl will be available for reading in November 2010 and for purchase over the holidays.

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In the spirit of continuing discussion begun yesterday, as I had planned to, today I found this article at Publishing Perspectives, which muses about whether famous authors should even bother with traditional publishers anymore. It cites as examples authors including Steven Covey, of whom I’ve not yet heard and will research more shortly, as well as Timothy Ferris (The Four-Hour Workweek) and Seth Godin. I’m very familiar with Godin; I’ve read a lot of his blog, and he’s primarily a businessman concerned with marketing and branding but also has myriad interesting thoughts about how to harness the power of social networking and tribes.

All three seem to be businessmen of some nature, and all three seem to make their income primarily through speaking engagements and presentations. Their books are extensions of their content, and not vice versa, which I think is an extraordinary distinction to make.

I think this is precisely the sort of practice that may help us rethink publishing. Let’s face it: in the age of the Internet and at the advent of a new paradigm of digital distribution and consumption, the model as has been used since the Great Depression no longer seems appropriate. Does it make sense, in nearly 2010, to use a content distribution model that has existed since before television?

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BookChase is one of my very favorite literary/book review blogs; it’s proprietor, a fella named Sam, writes rather extraordinary, particularly cogent reviews about the books he reads. Just the other day, Sam linked to this Washington Post article concerning Chris Bohjalian and his feelings concerning reviews of his books, specifically on

Sam uses the article as an opportunity to offer some thoughts on his own amateur status as a book reviewer:

I do sincerely try to be fair in every review that I write and I don’t make a habit of taking cheap shots, although I imagine it’s happened more times than I realize or intended. In fact, I’ve had some nice comments from some of the authors I’ve most criticized saying that they appreciate honest reviews and can see the point I was making – and then they usually tell me why they think I am wrong. Fair enough, that, and I very much appreciate their willingness to discuss their work with someone as anonymous as me.

It’s a difficult dilemma, I think. Especially concerning the Internet and the basically egalitarian voice it gives everyone. Over here, at, one commenter noted:

I bet if you too a brief census of the artists who heard any commentary about their work while at SDCC, approximately 100% would say that on at least more than one occasion, someone took a proverbial “shit in their cornflakes” while expressing their opinions about something. Unfortunately, some people use “criticism” or “just being honest” as an excuse to be an asswipe. In that respect, if you’re going to be an artist and your going to put your stuff out there for scrutiny, best for all parties involved that you develop a healthy tolerance for all such people.

My response there was:

The Internet seems to have created more critics than academia, and most are worse if only because they generally have trouble both having a cogent thought and spelling it correctly. That said, I don’t see why wanting to share one’s work with other people includes the necessity for developing a healthy tolerance for asswipes. Fuck asswipes.

A sentiment Bookchase’s post refreshed.

I mentioned before I’m still learning how (if at all) to respond to reactions to Entrekin; there have been a couple of reactions, anonymous and otherwise, that I’ve seen and which made me want to say: “Wait, who are you? What, exactly, have you ever done?” I mean, there’s subjective stuff like someone didn’t like it, and I get that. But people who bash my grammar/style just make me want to say, “Look, I was a professional editor and have a Master’s degree in Professional Writing. I tend to not simply know grammar better than most textbooks but also understand its fluid nature.”

This isn’t to say I believe in grammatical anarchy, mind you. I generally reference Shakespeare as someone who played with language and grammar, but of course he knew what he was doing beforehand, which is the big requirement. You can bend or break the rules all you’d like, but to do so, you must know the rules you’re breaking, why they’re rules, and why you’re breaking them.

The reason I bring this up now is that I’m starting to wonder about “amateur” reviewers, if mainly because all the professional venues are pretty much going the way of the dodo. Newspapers left and right are decreasing their coverage of books, and well they should, but really I’m surprised they exist in the first place, anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I actually touched a newspaper, and most of the magazines I read anymore are available in full online. Why buy Rolling Stone when I can read all the stories via the Internet?

And if so much reading is occurring online anyway, why go to those publications? One of the biggest revolutions the Internet has brought on is the removal of middlemen between creators and consumers of content. I don’t yet think this works for novels, which is why I’m not yet considering Lulu to self-publish my own, but most publications have Internet presences, anyway. I’ve been working on some short stories lately, and my thought is, when I finish them, I can either submit them for publication and rely on someone else who may or may not be as qualified as I am to edit, or I can just post them here (or in et cetera). Some people think that publishing in big ole’ publications confers some sort of authority, but I’m more of the mind that quality of content, and not method of distribution, should confer authority.

Which means I’m of the mind that yes, everyone has a voice, but very few actually deserve to be listened to.

The Bulwer-Lytton prize, named after the author who first set down “It was a dark and stormy night,” is a parody award given to bad writing.

This year’s “winners” have been announced.

Thing is, I’d totally read a novel that began:

Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who’d bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy’s trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears.

Because, seriously, a Sears vasectomy is the sort of imagery that would keep me going at least 50 more pages.

In fact, I kinda think the only bad thing about that entry is the comma splice after “Preparation A.”

More winners:

2008 Results.

In light of the discussion on what editors actually do, and why they may or may not be necessary, I thought I’d point to a piece I found over at the New Yorker (though I’m not sure whom I found it by. Someone in my blogroll, probably). The article concerns Raymond Carver and his editor, one Gordon Lish.

I’ve not read much Carver. My sister is a big fan of his, and even won a bet concerning plot and structure by showing her professor a copy of one of Carver’s collections, but I’ve not really yet explored much of his stuff. I don’t know much about Carver at all, really. He just ain’t my cup of tea, to be honest. I make jokes all the time about blowing shit up, but Carver’s stories, while minimalist, also seem a careful study in the “not much happens” school of short story telling. Which always makes me say, “Wait, nothing happened? Then why the fuck are you telling me the story? Is there a point?”

Personal predilections aside, his voice is distinctive. Nothing may happen, but somehow, you still sort of feel the nothing happening. His stories are weird that way.

Anyway, Gordon Lish was editor of Esquire for several years. Judging by his Wikipedia entry, he was involved with the “Merry Pranksters,” including Kerouac, Casaday, and Ginsberg in SF before he and his second wife moved to NYC. He earned some renown through his career: DeLillo, Kundera, Nabokov . . . the list goes on.

From the Wikipedia entry on Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”:

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is actually a heavily edited version of Carver’s original draft, “Beginners.” His editor, Gordon Lish, cut out nearly half of Carver’s story, adding in details of his own. Carver’s version, released by his widow, Tess Gallagher, in December 2007 to The New Yorker magazine, shows the extensive, and sometimes apparently arbitrary edits.

Now I’m going to speak about this from some personal experience, and admit something; I was, for other writers, not a very good editor. I always tried to make the writing better, the story better, but often to the detriment of the original material, the original voice, and the original content. A good editor maintains that original content; I really wasn’t one. I wasn’t bad, exactly; I just wasn’t good.

Here’s the New Yorker article on the story.

I think it’s worth reading if only for the glance into the sometimes esoteric realm of what occurs behind the scenes in writing and publishing. Considering Lish’s edits, is the story really any better, or is it, in fact, worse for the wear? I’ll admit I found Carver’s original final several paragraphs rather poignant, especially the horses bit, and especially the end; does their loss negatively affect the story? Or was Lish correct that they were stronger without them?

Or is Lish just some editor who was never good enough to be a writer and so had to butcher other author’s works? Sure, he “introduced” major writers of the 20th century, but what did he do to their stories? Considering the finalized state of Carver’s story compared to its original, I cringe to think what he did to Nabokov and Kundera, personally. And I don’t even really like either of them.

Questions, questions.

At what point do you, as Carver say, “You know what? Sorry, but that’s not the story I wrote. You can publish that, if you like, but you’ll have to write it yourself.”

It’s almost like Lish was the P. Diddy of his time, sampling a classic song, laying a bit of new vocal on it, calling it his own, and cashing in.

Or maybe it’s almost like Lish helped those writers transcend their otherwise mediocre writing?

I’ll admit, I haven’t a clue.

Which is, largely, the reason I chose to self-publish my collection. Not because I didn’t want editorial input; I’d already gotten it, several times over. Rather, just because I just don’t know how important editorial input is to short stories anymore.

Finally, also, some thoughts on how to become an editor, over at et cetera.

Yesterday’s post caused more of a stir than I’d have expected, and brought some comment:

Will Shetterly commented here.

Cat Rambo mentions it here. (I made some comments in the discussion, but they haven’t yet shown up)

James Nicoll mentions it here.

In both that first link and the final, Nick Mamatas shows up to offer some thoughts of his own.

Finally, John Fox, one of the editors in question (and again: a terrific writer, and my former classmate), discusses it here, with Howard Junker, editor of Zyzzyva showing up in the comments.

I’d like to note a few things, the first of which is that I respect and admire both Mamatas and Fox. I mentioned both Mamatas’ Stoker nominations (and win!) and Fox’s status as my classmate to demonstrate such. Their offenses, as such (reprinting query letters), are more dubious than egregious. Mamatas, in Nicoll’s LJ, notes the long history of “Tales from a Slushpile,” including from editors as renowned as Ellen Datlow.

While I’m surprised Wolff still has a job at Fence, I continue to expect great things from both Fox and Mamatas (I’m betting their respective theses are awesome, judging from what work of theirs I’ve seen).

My main point yesterday was one of courtesy and confidentiality. Perhaps my reaction comes from my own time as an editor, which occurred in a somewhat different industry than Fox and Mamatas function in; I edited a clinical psychiatric nursing journal, which was a trade publication, as opposed to a commercial publication. Commercial publishing, which includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and pretty much everything consumers buy, is actually a small percentage of the publishing industry, which includes textbooks, manuals, and the sorts of publications that are published by specialty presses for particular audiences. I worked for SLACK Incorporated, which is one of the largest publishers of medical literature in the world; unless you’re involved, somehow, in the medical industry, however, you’ve probably never seen the journal.

Perhaps that context is important; it’s obviously not an endeavour that lends itself to a side-blog, nor one in which publishing the letters of people with bipolar disorder would really amuse its audience in any way.

Fox makes the interesting note that writers who are good at their jobs won’t show up in such correspondence; the vast majority of slush is merely mediocre, and not horrific enough to “amuse.”

And perhaps again, I’m just not really the audience for this. I’ve said before I think the literary marketplace for short-form writing is basically broken, at this point, especially with blogs and Lulu. I’ve always wondered how many people who aren’t trying to break into print actually read these magazines; Mamatas has disparaged MFA programs as the barely published teaching the barely literate, and the short-form literary marketplace has always struck me as catered specifically to a readership that hopes to get published in it.

One final note: Mamatas has quickly picked up (and on) the fact that I am, in his words, a “ author.” I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that; while technically accurate, I’d much rather clarify that to just being a guy who made some stories available to anyone who’d like to read them. In Shetterly’s blog, Mamatas seems to indicate he feels that distribution is the clear reason writers need editors; without the latter, the former can’t get onto bookstore shelves, etc, and asks how many I’ve seen in a bookstore. As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t a clue, because that’s just not something I, as a reader, pay attention to–I pay attention to the writing and the stories, not who published them. No, you can’t find my collection in libraries (and I’m not sure you ever will), but you can download it free, and I think that’s kinda cool.

Also, I’d like to point out that my debut is a collection of short writing–poetry, essays, and fiction (most of you regular readers know this. Those who don’t: it’s free! What’re you waiting for?! Give it a try! Nothing to lose besides ten minutes [you’ll know by then whether you’ll like it, and why continue if you don’t?]!). I used Lulu to publish it because I had several stories and essays I’d workshopped in my writing program (and indeed, a couple that got me into it in the first place), but nowhere to go with them, nowhere they seemed to fit. So rather than wait months for possible acceptances and probably meager paychecks, I just put them together.

I’d not do the same thing with my novel. The marketplace for long fiction seems, to me, more diverse, decidedly better, and less marketed to those who just want to get published in it in the first place (well. When it’s marketed at all, but that’s another post entirely). In addition, it seems more a business than the short-form market, which seems a bit more akin, to these eyes, to a network.

Then again, as Shetterly noted in his blog, I’m still very much learning my craft and the marketplace, so obviously all this must be taken with a handful of salt.

I’m a fairly frequent reader of Nick Mamatas’ LiveJournal since I discovered it not long ago (though I can’t remember how). Mamatas mostly seems a pretty interesting guy, and I noted some things in common; we’ve both just recently handed in a thesis to Master’s programs, . . . well. And that’s about it. He’s got quite the track record–winner of a Stoker and nominated for both another Stoker and an International Horror Guild Award. And he’s the editor of Clarkesworld, an ezine/literary mag (is it just me or is there becoming very little difference between an online zine and a blog?).

Mamatas recently posted about banning a writer from submitting to Clarkesworld. This isn’t the first time such banning has been mentioned: see here and here.

All three seem to be instances in which writers respond to rejections, which I’ll be the first to acknowledge is not something writers should do. Rejection is part of the process, part of the story, part of the life. If you’re not prepared to get rejected fairly often and fairly conclusively, go to med school and invest some hours in becoming a doctor, because the pay’s way better, there’s more security, and if Grey’s Anatomy is any indication, it’s probably easier (I jest on that last note. One of my buddies is a doctor. One of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever met. That’s why we’re friends).

However, posting such correspondence on their blogs is not something editors should do.

If this were an isolated occurrence, I might never have brought it up, but it’s not. John Fox, who was on staff at Southern California Review, recently posted A Slush Pile Dispatch in which he inserted comments into a letter SCR received from an inmate. This was troubling not just for the vetting of such correspondence but because John was one of my classmates in the MPW program, a program I chose because it was supposed to be about professionalism, and not “arts”. For what it’s worth, and not that whoever wrote the letter will probably ever see it, but I’d like to note that John’s comments don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the USC MPW program.

I’d also like to note two other things: first, that John is actually a great guy I’ve enjoyed taking classes with, which means I was a bit surprised by the post but don’t particularly hold it against him; and second, another post I found via John’s site (which, I just realized, I didn’t mention up above: John writes Book Fox, which is really pretty awesome. His interviews at the BookFest were terrific, and he’s going to be running another set soon from Book Expo America). This one over pointed to Fence, which is a literary magazine I’ve actually seen at a newsstand (unlike just about every other one).

In this post, editor and publisher Rebecca Wolff responded to a writer’s question about contributors’ copies by telling the writer to, and I quote, “Eat shit and die.”

When did this become acceptable behavior from editors?

I used to be an editor. For three years, I was assistant editor of the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. The audience of said journal, which had a consumer magazine format, was two-fold: first, psychiatric and forensic nurses involved in the mental and behavioral health care industries.

The other was their patients.

Given that second audience, we received many, many queries and submissions from patients in private institutions that specialized in mental and behavioral health. People with clinical depression, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphia, autism spectrum disorders, and various addictions–as well as people in corrective populations (that’s prisons to you and me), juvenile offenders, and individuals who had great difficulty with lives I have difficulty imagining. We often received manuscripts handwritten in tiny scrawl over twenty pages– or phone calls to the office when particular submitters entered the manic phase of their bipolar cycles and decided to head to Atlantic City for a night of gambling and other self-destructive behaviors.

I edited articles by people who had been in the justice system, and not on the end with the gavel. I edited articles by nurses who had overcome addictions and illnesses to train and gain licensure to treat individuals coping with problems those nurses knew and understood perhaps more intimately than they would have liked. I admire sobriety, and I think of the nurses who found it and then dedicated their lives to helping other people find it, which I can’t imagine would have been easy, perhaps somewhat roughly akin to having alcoholism but going to a bar anyway, perhaps to bartend or perhaps again to try to lend the people who believed they needed a drink the ear and support they truly needed but didn’t want to admit.

But you know what? Besides me and my supervisor, no one ever heard about those letters. No one heard about the correspondences, many of which began before I ever started working there and continue, I’m certain, to this day.

Not only did I edit that magazine, but I’ve been reading Making Light since back when it was both Making Light and Electrolite, probably around 2001 or so (I remember I found it while I was working in Manhattan, which was 2000-2001). It’s maintained by Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, two editors at TOR (well. I know Patrick is. I remember Teresa mentioned a position consulting for, I believe, a media company, but I’m not certain she left TOR to take that position).

I mention Making Light because it’s maintained by not one but two editors and features frequent contributions from people like Jo Walton and Dave Langford, and never once have I seen such an egregious lack of professional etiquette on that site. They’ve focused on takedowns of plagiarism and fly-by-night/scam publishers, certainly, but never anything like what I’ve seen going occurring lately.

I wish it would stop. I’d really like to see editors do their job, rather than sharing their jobs with the world. I’m a writer. Tell me your guidelines and your rates. Tell me the sorts of stories you’re looking for. Tell me, even, what you’re not looking for. Tell me about any upcoming anthologies you’re putting together, tell me about any projects you’re excited about and want me to be excited about, too.

But don’t tell me how you tell your contributors to “eat shit and die,” and don’t tell me how many you’ve banned, no matter how egregious those writers’ behaviors. Because I’m a writer, and if I see that’s how you’ve treated some prospective authors, or authors you’ve already even published, well, I can’t help but worry about how you’re going to treat me. And nowadays, we’ve got blogs, we’ve got Lulu, we’ve got book reviewers and designers, and the Internet makes it incredibly easy to meet people we need to when we want to, so what do we even need you for, anyway?

In the relationship of aspiring author and zine/mag editor, one person often has professional status, and one often does not (especially considering the word: “aspiring”). Here’s a helpful hint: if you’re paying for stories, you’re a professional editor, and you should act so.