Writing is all about translating thoughts and words in a way that readers can grasp. It doesn’t always come out the way an author intends, nor is it often received as the creator had hoped. Sometimes this works in a writer’s favor, and sometimes it’s the worst.
Working with editors and publishers is important because they help you grow your skills and improve your style, but there are instances in which the personal views of select editors can hinder the creative process. It is a writer’s job to find a good editor and stick with publishers that suit them.
The “try and try again” method is no joke here. Sometimes you have to keep knocking on the same door no matter how many rejections you receive, and then there are those rare instances when you probably don’t want to get through.
I have only experienced this once or twice. It’s a shitty situation-where an editor wants to alter your content due to their political and/or religious beliefs. In the past I have done everything I can to alter my work to fit the needs of the publications that I am submitting to, but that can only go so far.
Most changes are grammatical, or a few cuts or additions to aid the flow of the story, but when you submit your work to a publication and get an acceptance, and only after that are asked to make changes that flip the heart of the story, that’s when you must walk away.
About 90% of publishers I have worked with will not accept something if they are asking for a rewrite, the rewrite request comes first and THEN you get the acceptance (unless they only asked for minor changes). I recently had an editor accept my work. Once I agreed to the terms, then they wanted me to make the piece more personal, so I pushed myself to add in what I could and make it all fit together properly. The editor then told me it was TOO personal.
At this point I had to ask myself what was best for me and my writing. The changes were good, but the original version was more concise and heartfelt. The “always keep them wanting more” ideal is a slippery slope. You either write too much or not enough. I’ll admit I do struggle with that balance at times, but my original concept was very structured and had all the pieces there.
I fully accept that I am still growing as a writer and that this particular submission was not perfect (none are), but I have had a couple of other bad experience with this publisher before, where they will slate my story for an issue and then go back on it. It’s unprofessional and disorganized to treat writers that way. Not to mention bad for business. This time, the editor no longer wanted to publish my piece, but only keep it on file. Patience and Persistence sometimes create conflict. I was unsure if I should wait it out, or move on.
Lucky for me, I had at least 2 other backups and decided to decline. I would much rather place my work with a publisher who appreciates the message and gives it a set date for release.
I cannot count the numerous times I have made changes and regretted it. Being flexible is important, but always keep your originals and makes sure you have a list of publishers you want to submit to. The more options you have, the less desperate you are to take the first deal that comes your way. This is the part of perseverance that nobody talks about.
It’s difficult to sift through the bullshit, but trusting your gut and staying loyal to the editors and publishers that treat you well is the first step.