Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Editors have lives, too

So, yesterday I received a response from the editor at Electric Spec who "tentatively" accepted a short story of mine back in December. I say tentatively because the Electric Spec editor sent me an acceptance letter the second week of December, and then a month later decided my story was not ready for publication after she and the editorial team gave it further review. One of the main reasons given for putting the publication of the story on hold was that it lacked a climax and denouement.

That's true to a certain extent; it was written with an abrupt, though (I'd contend) climactic ending. I'd compare the ending of the story to a sixty-five year old man having a fatal heart attack just as he comes: he might have collapsed dead ( buddha-belly and all) on top of some pretty young thing more than half his age, but he for damn sure climaxed, and had fun doing it, too. You'll understand when you read the story.

If Electric Spec publishes it, I'll link it here. Anyway, the editor offered to look at a rewrite of the story if I were willing to rewrite it, and if I wasn't, she'd offer me a kill fee almost half the acceptance fee. Not bad, I thought, considering I'd been getting rejection form letters to this point.

None of the magazines I'd submitted that story and other stories to offered to look at a rewrite, let alone a kill fee. Taking the kill fee was tempting, since I could get paid to be rejected and still shop around my story other places.

But then, I just couldn't pass up the chance to work with an editor on one of my stories. I asked the editor exactly what elements of the story she wanted me to address in the rewrite, and she told me she'd look at the rewrite after the magazine's upcoming publication date. I rewrote the story, submitted it to her, and waited. More than a month after the publication date went by and I heard nothing from the editor.

Which was fine with me. I was working on other stories (all related to the one I submitted to Electric Spec--same world, same concepts, but different characters and events), and I was submitting to other magazines. I felt productive. I had even received a "tentative" acceptance from another sci fi magazine.

And then the Electric Spec editor emailed me last night saying she was sorry for the delayed response to my rewrite, but she'd been having health issues. Good thing I wasn't bad-mouthing her in my frustration. The editor still offered to look at my rewrite, but wasn't sure when she'd get to it--weeks or even months could go by before she read it. She acknowledge the enormous effort I put in my rewrite and wanted to give it her full attention. She also acknowledged a writer's impatience and ego, and offered to give me suggestions for other markets if I wanted to shop around the story. I told her not to worry about the story and to just focus on her health; I could wait until she felt well enough to give it a good read.

However, I am a writer--I also asked her if I would still get the kill fee if she didn't like my rewrite. Might as well put it all out there. And yes, I did put the emphasis on her health rather than the kill fee. But I'm also new at this, I've yet to have a science fiction piece published, and my writing ego is in need of being stroked.

Kill fee or not, I think the blow of rejection would be lessened if I'm being paid to shop my story elsewhere. Electric Spec is definitely at the top of my list for places to submit work, whether they accept my story or not.

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