A Word to the Wise

Okay, for those of you who have recently had some kind of interaction with me or one of my staff at Echelon Press, please read this in the spirit it is intended. How is it intended? It is a gripe, not a rant. I am not angry, I am just frustrated. I don’t dislike you, but I did experience moments of annoyance with regard to you if you did what I am about to discuss.

Free editorial service. Yup, there I said it. When you submit your work to a publisher it it supposed to be the very best that it can be.

  • It should not need to be reformatted to fit our guidelines.
  • It should not need to be spell checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be grammar checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve major issues.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve minor issues.
  • It should not need to be rainbowed (some of my auuthors call that the great was, were, that hunt)

Seriously. This is how MOST of the manuscripts we are getting have to be addressed. I understand and will accept some flaws, you are after all human. But let’s be serious folks. It is NOT an unwritten rule that you must send a fully edited manuscript to a publisher for consideration. It is written all over the place. 90% of our submissions need to be 50% overhauled.

Now, the free part. My editors are very considerate. I have always had a policy that if your work is rejected, you know exactly why. This means notes, suggestions, advice. You can take it or leave it. But I feel that it only serves to help the author better his craft. It is a courtesy.

Well, it seems that Echelon has gotten a reputation for being really easy! We have had an influx of authors who submit to us, I should say submit work that needs serious work, with the notion that we will edit it. Okay, we will HELP.

But those same authors are getting all kinds of input and help with revision suggestions, notes on grammatical and spelling errors, stuff like that BEFORE they have a contract. Okay, that stops here! Right now. From this point on, Echelon will only give editorial comments and the like on contracted materials. Why?

In the last month, we have had about a dozen submissions where a pending offer was made, the editor began working with the author, time was spent, MONEY was spent, and then when it came time to actually sign and mail the contract, the author decided to go with another publisher or in the case of five different authors, they decided to self-publish.

For pete’s sake people, you can’t make this decision BEFORE you submit and get a gander at our contract which is not for public viewing? You wanna self-publish, good for you. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. If you are willing to make that commitment and follow through, then I applaud you. Sincerely. But do I have to pay the price?

I am, after all, a publisher, not a FREE editorial service. I have to pay my editors and when you get their work and then don’t sign the damn contract, I still have to pay them, or they quit. Are you following what I’m saying?

For those of you who fit this bill, I’m really not mad, but I am disappointed because we do put a lot of work into what we do, and when it is for nothing, that means you have taken the time we could have been devoting to someone who really did want to be published by us.

Be courteous. Is that too much to ask?

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4 responses to “A Word to the Wise

  1. WOW! I hate that I am not surprised that some people would take advantage of the system. I wish I coud be. Really. I am happy that you are putting your foot down. I recently attended a conference and learned from an editor what their job involved. I was surprised by that.

  2. Thanks for sharing this.

    My first editor/publisher gig was in the 80s, when everything had to be mailed. When you had to put $1 down on your work, it made a difference. I tried to comment on everything, soon learning it was impossible. The odds of someone spending 20 cents to tell me how much they disagreed with me was low, but when it happened, it was a real bombshell, made me feel like shit for days. All for what? Trying to be helpful?

    But now email makes it so easy to blast a draft in the “mail” to a heap of markets, without a care in the world. And it only takes an instant for them to snip back at me if they don’t like the result. And there are whole streams of bad advice and anarchist malarkey out there. Even whole websites devoted to writers bitching about editors — what’s up with that? Whatever happened to being professional, or at least courteous, or maybe appreciating the comments fomr someone with possibly decades of experience on what makes good writing stand out from the slush?

    What a mess. No point trying to comment on submissions anymore. That’s been beaten out of me — except for folks who I know are not on the crazy side of the tracks. Luckily, there are still professional people out there (in every role) who are a pleasure to work with, even if we do have bad days or say the wrong thing here & there.

    It’s just appalling how the internet has eroded so many things down to trivial hash and flame wars. Millions of people scrambling to be heard in the most chaotic mess ever invented. Decent people get over little bumps in the road … I don’t know where the rest of them are coming from. We’ve gone from a team effort down to some kind of “eat your neighbors” mentality.

    Just makes the good guys that much more precious.

  3. ‘…the editor began working with the author, time was spent, MONEY was spent, and then when it came time to actually sign and mail the contract, the author decided to go with another publisher or in the case of five different authors, they decided to self-publish.’

    Wow! I’m truly stunned that folks would take advantage like that.

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