Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Professional Discourtesy

Yeah, I know, but where there's a brick wall, I must bang my head against it.

I realize that many, if not most, magazine and e-zine editors do it for the love and not for the money. Many of them finance the projects out of their own pockets. An awful lot of them consider the mag or 'zine a hobby. Those facts, however, do not exempt the editors from conducting their business in a professional manner. Anyone who offers to pay a writer for work is engaged in a professional activity, whether they are making money at it or not.

My writing is not a hobby. I am serious about it. I try to behave in a professional manner, and I expect to be treated in a professional manner. I read and follow submission guidelines. I format my manuscripts properly. I send professional, business-style cover letters and address editors properly as "Mr." or "Ms." or "Mrs." and by name wherever it is indicated. In return, I expect editors to live up to their end of the implied contract.

I am willing to abide by indicated response times. I don't like it, necessarily, since I'm not really a very patient person where my stories are concerned, but I will abide by them. When an editor states a response time in their guidelines, they have a professional responsibility to abide by that statement. I understand completely how overwhelmed and inundated they often get, but the responsibility does not go away. I amwilling to follow the editor's guidelines; they must be willing to do the same. If they cannot get to my manuscript within their stated time, I'm okay with that. I will give them a break and wait usually twice the time they state before I query them.

My queries are not confrontational or accusatory or in way anything other than tactful. I always acknowledge their overwhelming workload as well as the vagaries of human and computer behavior. All I ask for is some notice that they do or do not have that particular manuscript in their slush pile, I don't expect a detailed explanation, or, indeed, any explanation at all. A simple "Yes, it's here. We should get to it in XX weeks (or months)" or "No, it's not here". That's all I want, need, or expect. That is not an undue burden on anyone, especially in the age of computers. Organizing, storing and searching data is just so easy and so quick these days. A few seconds, a form e-mail, and I'm satisfied.

This is where the system seems to be breaking down. In 2005, I have queried 4 editors about the status of my submissions. One has replied. One. That is unacceptable. I have notified two of the unresponsive editors that I have withdrawn my manuscripts, and I am submitting them elsewhere. The third is fast approaching a second query and a final deadline. Those markets are now closed to me. They have chosen to treat me with disrespect and discourtesy. They will not participate in my future success.

Herbert White, long-time professor of Library Science at Indiana University, spent a long and very distinguished career being the librarians' gadfly. He constantly urged librarians to grow backbones and to demand the respect due them as professionals. It's past time for writers to do the same. Professionals should treat each other with respect and courtesy. That is nothing more than an acknowledgement of a common bond of profession. If anyone does not treat me with just a bare minimum of common courtest, then they are not professionals. Pure and simple. I do not have time or energy to spend on poseurs.

I intend to be successful with what Carlos Castaneda calls "unbending intent". I will be successful, and I will follow the path that leads to success without sacrificing my dignity. That is my intent, that is my goal, and that is my destiny.

That is all.


At 6:32 PM, Blogger Heather Lynne said...

Good for you, Carter.

Let 'em have it!

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Demented M said...

Well said! I hope some of those editors out there read this!

And have you subbed to SFFH? Dan is super professional and I bet he'd like your work.


At 4:32 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Thanks, Heather!

Thanks, DM. I'm in the process of rethinking my whole submission philosophy. Current wisdom is to go top down. I'm thinking I need some more publishing credits before that will work. I'll certainly give SFFH a try. He's publishing some good stuff.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Melly said...

I agree.
If I query and don't get a reply, I won't query again. I'll simply send a 'withdrawal letter' and that's it.

Miss Snark, btw, had something about it just this week. Got through the posts. YOu two seem to think alike :)

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Carter said...

I generally send a second query after 30-60 days on the off-chance that the first got lost. After the 2nd query, they have 30 days to respond or I withdraw the submission and cross them off my list.

I think like the Mistress Of All That Is Snark? Eeeekk! Actually, aside from her taste for gin, I do think we share a lot of opinions. That lets me make a guess about how old she is.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger Miss Snark said...

what do you mean "eeek"!!


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