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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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I'm sure that ending the slush pile was a pure business decision.

Yes -- it didn't pay to be polite in the face of the sort of correspondence they were getting (and politeness generally includes a timely response), so better to end it all.

Also, I love publishing, and I love new writers. I think it's bad for both if editors follow the examples that Will Entrekin was wondering about.

Well, I don't think editors should tell their actual contributors to "eat shit and die", regardless of whether or not they are "new" writers, but if you want to actually help writers -- new or otherwise -- I'd recommend explaining ever more carefully that in these days of email, it's a really bad idea just to fire back in response to a rejection.

Frankly, the way to recommend it be handled, it becomes a not very bad idea, and thus there is no reason for anyone to stop. No surprise that at least two of the people I've dealt with were writers/editors with a decade or two of experience who engage in the practice regularly because nobody ever stood up to them before I did.

Finally, hen I speak for groups of which I am not a part, I do try to make sure that the sentiment I express is itself expressed by at least some significant political or numerical faction of the group, and not virtually exclusively by people outside of the group.

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Like I said, politeness is part of the problem with slush, and you even acknowledge it when you allude to the model of "gentleman's publishing." Opening the slush is a matter of politeness, as is responding to it in a timely manner, which would involve paying someone to do it or opportunity costs surrounding intern time, etc.

And as I said to you in another venue, form letters get angry responses as well, albeit ones that are generally more inexplicable because forms don't really say anything.

Indeed, speaking of new writers, one publisher for whom I worked used a form letter that read, in part, "We only want to support new writers, but we cannot publish everything we receive" (I didn't write this form, btw.)

The most common responses to this form were, "But I am a new writer! Yeah, I listed a bunch of publications in my cover letter, but I still feel new," and "Only new writers, eh? That's ageist and stupid and I should sue. Veteran writers who master their craft are important too!"

Then, as I mentioned to you already as well, was the guy who responded to the form rejection by comparing the publisher to Hitler.

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