Editors

Writers face rejection. As I used to tell my students, the world is filled with people with the authority to say “No.” Rejection is never easy but it’s a fact of life. I recall an essay by Isaac Asimov introducing a story of his in a collection, where he noted it had been commissioned by a major magazine as part of a group of stories inspired by a photo. The magazine then rejected it. He was stunned. And he couldn’t help noting that he sold it elsewhere and it ended up appearing BEFORE the major magazine issue with the stories they had accepted.

rejectionI’ve had some rejections lately. The comments from one editor made it clear that I was scoring near misses to his sweet spot. That’s okay. I’ll try again. The others, though, made it clear that the real issue was that they were the wrong editors for those pieces. 

It’s something writers know from experience but probably isn’t known by general readers. If an editor doesn’t “get” the piece — or the writer — then trying to make it work will likely be frustrating for both and end up ruining the story. That’s why when I’ve come across an editor who helps me improve the work with suggestions and questions I want to find more for us to do together.

We all have stories about terrible editors, like the idiot who “corrected” my newspaper story about Andre Norton being a guest of honor at the 1989 World Science Fiction Convention by changing it to “Andrew Norton.” At a panel there about how the media covers science fiction my story was held up as an example of how uninformed reporters are. I raised my hand and identified myself as the author of the piece, and said that I knew who Andre Norton was, it was some editor who didn’t know what they were doing.

So there are good and bad editors out there, but there are also editors who are good for some writers and not for others. If you know what you have is good and some editor rejects it for reasons demonstrating they are utterly clueless, chalk it up to experience and move on. Like Asimov, I’ve had the pleasure of placing a rejected piece elsewhere. Living well is the best revenge.

This piece originally appeared on Daniel M. Kimmel’s Goodreads Blog

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