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7 February 2006
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Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza

Comments on a Writer's Letter About Unwanted Line Edits
by Ralan
January 2006 was anything but a quiet month with 26 new markets, 29 updates, and numerous corrections (Dog knows I need them!) and market notes.

I got a complaint from a writer (not a subscriber) that hiers* rejection letters were coming back with line edits all over the manuscript, instead of a nice, neat formal rejection letter. This writer thought it a waste of the both hiers and the editor's time. I wrote back, in part:

Actually, an editor who does detailed line edits for rejected works is a rare bird, and for most writers a valuable one. There are many professional editors out there who will do line edits for pay, so free is definitely a bonus. If the editor is honest, and even brutal, so much the better. Writers must have, or develop, hard skins. We can't afford to take criticism of our work personally. It is the words that are being discussed -- not ourselves, or our talent.

A formal rejection notice tells you nothing about your work, except that it wasn't right for that editor at that time. A personal one with some comments is helpful. But a rejection with a thoughtful, honest line edit by a qualified editor is the best, in my opinion. You get to see your work through your reader's eyes and mind. And not just any reader, but a careful, informed reader who knows market trends and writing. From some editors I'd pay for that.

In your career as a writer, you will come across some good editors and some editors who are abusive (to you, not your work), don't hold to their schedule, don't respond to your queries, and/or refuse to pay you. Even if you don't believe what I'm telling you now, someday you will come to the realization that this one is a saint among editors.

This editor is giving you and other writers a gift. My advice is to keep submitting to this editor, turn down the flame of your ego, dig in, and learn. But if you truly feel no one can improve your writing skills, you can always stipulate in your cover letter that you do not desire any comments or corrections.


(*hiers is my own made-up non-gender, possessive case, personal pronoun)

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