Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

First, happy birthday to Stuart MacBride, and his twin.*

Seems to be my week for sticking with themes, but this is just too good to pass up. Editors everywhere have stories about rude writers who flip out over rejections, or blatantly ignore the submission guidelines.

Clarkesworld: Of Course You Realize, This Means War

Banned some guy for responding to a rejection with a hopelessly generic "fuck you asshole."

That's about as much original thought as went into the story itself.

Update: After getting an autoresponse from the email about being closed to submissions, he sent this to my personal email address:

"Tell your fiction coward I said to go fuck himself. I am sure he has tried."

Well, after getting so personal, I Googled him. Turns out that author John Darling, who runs a writing/editing/computer business of some sort, and who lists his office number on the Internet as part of a local arts council directory also tried to license first world electronic rights to Clarkesworld for a story whose first world electronic rights were already expended:

The Book of Elijah was published as an Amazon Short at least as early as July 2007. (And yes, I did just buy the story to make sure that it was the same story he submitted to me under false pretenses on December 14 2007.)

Amusingly enough, John Darling's cover letter read, in part: "I have no problem with rejections. I have been writing and publishing short stories, articles, and have 3 books to my credit, for over 30 years so I have a lot of rejection slips. Still, acceptance is nicer."

Perhaps less amusing: be aware, anyone who might contract with John Darling of Ventura County for writing or creative services, or who may have a piece of fiction or non-fiction in a slushpile by this same author, that Darling tried to sell a previously published story as an original piece of fiction for which first world electronic rights were available.

And that isn't the end of the story. Click on the link for updates #2 and #3.

I know some of you are shaking your heads. Why would somebody do that? I know a few of you were baffled by my post the other day, trying to politely discourage writers from sending manuscripts to strangers for feedback (for their own protection, as well as the people on the receiving end).

Guys like John Darling prove the point: Not everyone can be trusted.

I've had someone try to sell me rights and try to sell the same rights elsewhere. I've told that story before, and that's why we insist on the release form. No release form means we will not review the submission.

But as much as I've tried to hint to writers, that editors talk and that you can get yourself a reputation, and nobody will want to work with you, some just don't get it.

If the Clarkesworld story doesn't prove the point, I don't know what does. And all you people out there bitching about rejections from me - especially the one who decided to publicly accuse us of bias online, because we rejected their story (which did NOT have the release sent with it) - just remember I've never named names online.

But I thank Nick Mamatas for doing so. Really, this kind of flagrant abuse and waste of editor's time needs to stop. I'm happy enough to take the warning.**

And on that note, John Scalzi declared yesterday 'international make up your own word day'.

Scalzi's contribution? Straternization: Hanging out socially with people not because you like them, but for their strategic benefits (i.e., helping you get ahead in work, getting you closer to that cute young thing, raising your social status in the lunchroom, etc). Usually doesn’t work nearly as well as people hope.

Indeed. And you have to invest in a lot of chapstick before you realize that it's about the work, not about kissing ass.

* Scroll down about 10 posts or so for it.

** A further update has been posted...

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