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james_nicoll
Will Entrekin on professionalism issues related to editor/writer correspondence.

Wil Shetterly links to the article and offers his views.

A discussion follows.

Nicked from slapfights, your online source of energetic discourse.

I am a little baffled by "If an editor rejects you, the only proper response is to send that editor another submission." That's a response but what if it's clear that that the set of things you will ever write does not overlap with the set of things the editor will ever buy? What are you accomplishing by sending them more work? It just ties the material up for the duration of a rejection cycle.

Digression: How does ownership of the words in letters work again? IIRC the physical document belongs to the person who receives it but who owns the actual words? I know how it works in the UK because of the Diana letters but not how it works in Canada or the US.

[Added later: and how does this apply to email, where there's not really anything physical involved, aside from the medium on which the email is stored?]

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So far, as my LJ is very widely read and linked to and people have even sometimes made specific reference to the LJ and to the pratice (both before and after their letters are posted), I'd say that most of them do read my LJ or quickly become aware of my LJ during the course of the struggle.

As far as how aware they are; I suspect they aren't all that aware. At least the guy who threatened to sue me for "libel" for rejecting his story in the first place didn't exactly strike me as a legal eagle. Nor did the three characters who tried to get me to buy first rights for stories whose first rights had already been expended.

My general take since you started doing it is if they're submitting to you, don't read the instructions, and respond badly then it's their fault. I'm not a writer seeking publication, and I'd have heard of you by now even if I didnt read your journal.

If you're submitting to an online pub with a named editor, a quick Google would be a plan. If you don't know your market you're never going to sell in it anyway.

It seems to me risky to depend on all of the people whose letters you quote being legally inept. All it takes is one cranky lawyer/writer (and lawyer/writers aren't exactly unheard of in SF: I can think of at least three, at least if I include ex-lawyers) to cause a lot of havoc. Granting for the moment that "there is a fair-use argument that could be made", how much money are you willing to spend to make it?

Obviously, the same issues come up when other editors quote (e)mail so if it's incorrect for you to do it, it's incorrect for them as well regardless of how long they've been in the field.

I have no idea where you got the idea that I "depend on all the people whose letters you quote being legally inept." You asked me about a group specific individuals, and I answered with a few specific examples from amongst that somewhat larger group.



Obviously, the same issues come up when other editors quote (e)mail so if it's incorrect for you to do it, it's incorrect for them as well regardless of how long they've been in the field.


Incorrect on what level? On the professional level? Transparently not -- professionalism is a bundle of common practices, not some unarticulated ideal only known, amazingly enough, to people not engaged in the profession. Politeness is also a moveable feast. (See how handwritten mss were handled a century ago versus fifty years ago versus today, for example.) Copyright infringement? As with any other human endeavor, there are costs and benefits, risks and rewards, precautions and chances. If you're sufficiently worried about legal defense funds, feel free to donate to the magazine.

Edited at 2008-05-22 03:38 pm (UTC)

If you're sufficiently worried about legal defense funds, feel free to donate to the magazine.

I am concerned about not being able to say "you know, I wondered if this would ever be an issue way back in May of 2008 and here's the proof."

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