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Twenty-eight words

July 6, 2009

I am very unhappy.

I received my copy of The Rejected Quarterly today and found more than a few librties taken with my story.  I understand that a little editorial discretion is to be expected, even appreciated, but there comes a point where the author will become offended.

It started with small stuff.  A paragraph split into two paragraphs, a narrative aside comment grouped into quotation marks (a if spoken aloud…by the wrong character).  I took those in stride; they really just changed the perspective of the story.  But then…

In a fairly complex part of the story, where the protagonist explains the root of his psychological problems, twenty-eight words were completely omitted.  It ruined the logic of the story.  The printed version makes no sense. That reflects on me (assuming anyone reads TRQ).  They didn’t ruin a masterpiece, but it was a clever story that comes across a lot less clever when you start scratching your head and saying “what did I miss?”  You missed twenty-eight words.

Why did they do it?  The splice point makes sense from a bad-typesetter perspective, but I sent an electronic copy of the story that should have been pretty much cut-and-paste.  It seems as though the cut was made in order to save the story from spilling over onto the next page.  If they needed twenty-eight words cut, I could have cut from several different places, just sectioning out a joke or a POV reaction.    It’s too sloppy to be an attempted edit.  It was simply sloppiness and is unacceptable.

I am furious and embarrassed.  I had intended to buy copies of the issue as gifts for my mother and maybe some other people.  No longer.  I don’t expect to apply there again.  I wonder if others have had this experience before.  I have not shared my displasure with the editor yet; I’m not sure how to approach it.  All I know is that I’m unhappy.

-Oso Enojado

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2009 9:52 pm

    Wow. I would have shared my displeasure with the editor privately before airing it on my blog, I suppose. That sucks though.

    I’ve had one experience with overly judicious editing and it actually worked in my favour. It would suck for it to be the other way around.

  2. osomuerte permalink
    July 6, 2009 10:20 pm

    Jordan,

    I agree, I need to discuss this with the editor. However, I felt a need to defend my story. My first thought was to post the story here in its entirety, but that would violate the publishing rights agreement. But I felt I needed to do something in case someone Googled me to find out why my story made no sense.

    I am also hoping for some feedback on what I can really expect done about it. My mother suggests I ask that the story be printed correctly in the next issue. That seems a bit much to ask for so small an operation as TRQ. They could run a correction, but who will notice that? I think I’m mostly upset that I don’t see a good way to fix the problem.

  3. July 6, 2009 10:31 pm

    If it’s a print magazine, you’re pretty screwed. The best they can probably do is to print an apology in their editorial. I’d ask for that at the least.

    Other than that, write it off. I’m not sure a magazine like that would appeal to too many non-writers, so their readership probably isn’t vast. I certainly can’t see any awards committee looking through a magazine called “The Rejected Quarterly” for potential best of the years, so I really don’t think you’ve lost that much.

    While a magazine like that might sound like a fun idea, I would never submit to it in the first place. By definition, it’s filled with stories that aren’t quite good enough for publication.

  4. osomuerte permalink
    July 6, 2009 10:47 pm

    I (still) believe in TRQ’s mission. As for “Excuse Me”, it just didn’t fit a lot of places. It wasn’t definitively speculative enough for a lot of markets and was not quite mainstream enough for others. The humor was very quirky and was not guaranteed to fit anywhere. It was a story destined to die despite being very clever (if I do say so myself). I guess I could have tried a for-the-love market, but TRQ seemed a better option.

    I believe that rejection is an important part of writing and am very pleased there is a magazine out there that recognizes that. I’m just not thrilled with the way my story was handled.

  5. July 7, 2009 3:19 am

    Ouch! That sucks. My sympathies!

    I know someone who sold a story to a well-regarded semipro print venue, and they left out something like the last 200 words. She contacted them, and the magazine reprinted her story, in its entirety, in the next issue.

    Good luck resolving the problem!

  6. July 7, 2009 11:36 pm

    Hopefully they’re willing to work with you on this. It is totally unacceptable to change so much that the meaning of the story changes… What does your contract say? Did they ever mention that substantial editing changes might take place?

    Good luck with talking to them, let us know how it goes.

    Nobu

    • osomuerte permalink
      July 8, 2009 1:21 am

      I have spoken to the editor. It was exactly what it looked like, a typing mistake. Apparently my .doc file was full of odd characters. Instead of asking me to resend or send a .rtf file, he decided to retype the story from the original manuscript. He made a mistake and failed to catch it.

      Do I understand? Yes. Is it okay? No.

      He insists the story has warranted a couple positive comments already, no one but me complaining about it being incoherent. Perhaps I am taking the plotline too seriously for the farcical comedy it is.

      I have not yet requested a published apology, though I believe such a request would be honored. Would it be too much to ask for my blog address to be printed for anyone who wanted to read the full story? (I would post “Excuse Me” in its entirely as soon as the correction was published.)

      Or am I just being a whiny baby about the whole thing?

  7. July 8, 2009 1:35 am

    I think it’s acceptable to get them to publish an apology and your blog address. It would be like a paragraph of text. That’s no problem.

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