Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Duped: On Trusting Publishers

An editor with an excellent record makes a decision, getting criticism for that decision. Said editor hits back, and is labelled... because the harsh exchange was against a member of a minority.  The editor gets more flack and apologizes, promising changes at the prominent magazine.  Some write this editor off but others (even a fair amount from the minority group that was wronged) support the editor still.  Everyone puts their foot in their mouths at times, right?  The editor has been around for years!  Has a good history!  Blah, blah, blah.

Forwarding to the autumn of that same year, another issue of the magazine comes out. This one, unsurprising to earlier critics, has the same problems.  A check into how the magazine is run reveals nothing has changed:  No new staff for balance, no new guidelines or editorial focus, no adjustments of any kind.  Business as usual.  

More people have been alienated from Prominent Liars Quarterly, but it's mostly minorities (not just ones from the specific group).  Because, even if the train is conducted by bigoted staff, they are prestigious enough to have writers brush morals aside.  It doesn't make a writer a bad person (racist, homophobic, sexist, or whatever) to try to climb aboard, does it?  After all, they aren't the ones being horrid.

Shamefully, I thought this editor just made a poor call.  I knew differently later on.  
A while back, I had a poem finally accepted at a decent speculative publication owned by an editor who had been around for decades.  Through another publisher who bought some of his publications (he has a fair amount), contributors learned of allegations of sexual abuse against him. Researching it, I found out it was true (and there was a lot of evidence against him).

Among his many publications, he publishes a children's magazine.  He lives near an elementary school.  The charges were from the past, nothing recent, but the thought of him living that close to where kids are and publishing stories for them...

The whole experience made me feel dirty, tainted.  I pulled my poem (which another editor there understood).  I'm probably blacklisted now, but his entire publishing company will never see another submission of mine, anyway.  The understanding editor still works for him.
No one knows for sure who is on the opposite side of the desk (or Internet connection).  Or knows what they will ignore for a chance at a byline, especially before becoming established.

Some writers state flat-out they only care about a magazine's practices, not anything a particular editor may say or do outside it.  I'm not like that.  I can't afford the luxury.  It is one thing to have genuine ignorance, it is quite another to silently condone a type of conduct by submitting.

And, that's exactly what it is.  Permission for the action.  A signal that illegal or immoral things don't matter to certain writers.  Bigotry doesn't matter.  That hurting a child isn't as important--as bad as not being given a chance.
I have a healthy blacklist which (thankfully) doesn't expand often.  I'd rather kick a handful of chances out of bed, than to lie beside them full of nightmares and regret.  If that's what it takes to get ahead, I'll gladly stay where I am.

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