Some things make you shake your head in disbelief while privately vowing never to work with the outfit in question. Or more accurately, some things are icing on the nailhead trim decorating the coffin of traditional publishing. Granted, this story involves a small press, not one of the big New York publishers, but it’s still a lesson in why self-publishing is rolling along like a boulder after Indiana Jones.
First, there are the cack-handed copy edits that insert grammar and spelling errors into text that was correct when submitted. Case in point: someone added an apostrophe to the verb in the title of Mandy DeGeit’s story in an Undead Press anthology. “She Make’s Me Smile.” Ouch.
Then there are the content revisions that include changing the gender of a character, giving him animal abuse memories the author’s never heard of and adding the suggestion of rape near the end of the story. But that’s not the kicker as far as I’m concerned.
The kicker is the petulant, legally threatening, unmitigated snarkfest of a response Mandy received when she wrote to the publisher in question. The publisher’s response started out like this (below, and multiply-sic-worthy) and got worse:
on the contract, it clearly says publisher has the right to EDIT work. you signed it. are you saying you are a dishonest and immoral person and will now try to deny you signed the contract? well i have a copy right here”
Kind of reminds you of a similar snarkfest from that editor who told Monica Gaudino that the web was public domain and she should be happy they’d stolen her work and not given her credit, doesn’t it?
And for this we writers get paid what, maybe $.05 a word if we’re lucky (and nothing at all if we’re not)? Not me, thanks. I’ll write my stories in my own blood on the sidewalk outside my house before I put up with that nonsense.
Here’s the original post on Mandy’s blog, the resulting entry on Writer Beware, and the post from Passive Guy that alerted me to the whole thing. And just for good measure, here’s the venerable Mr. Konrath on the exploitation of writers.