And sometimes the editor is just plain wrong
And a writer has to nail their colours to the mast. Below is a series of emails between me and an erotica editor whose details I have removed to save unpleasantness. This is a publisher that asks for a sample story – a process I’m always dubious about, as it often leads to work being used without payment, although I have no reason to believe that would be the case here.
Anyway, the first thing I asked for was an assurance that I’d be paid if they chose to use my ‘sample’. That question was ignored, and I received a sample spec to write to. While I was pondering the spec, I went to their site to have a look at the stories they currently offer as samples so as to acquaint myself with their preferred style. I could have just failed to submit a sample story, but sometimes you have to speak honestly, don’t you? So, given that I make a reasonable living from erotica and want to preserve what I think is a good name for professionalism, teach a course on writing about sex, and believe that intelligent and amusing writing about things sexual is one of the great pleasures of adult life, this is the email I sent to him ….
Sent: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 6:54 AM
I’ve spent some time looking at the stories on your site and I hope you’ll forgive me if I say that actually, I’m not willing to write for you. I’m sure you do pay well, but after looking at the samples which contain phrases like ‘she lied down next to me’ I have to say I’d be unhappy to have my name associated with such a site, because people might think it was me who didn’t know that there is no such past participle of lay – lied means to tell an untruth, pure and simple.
And he replied …
Your arrogance has been noted.
To which I said …
From: Kay Sexton
Sent: 24 January 2007 16:39
Well, I think that’s a little harsh. I point out an egregious grammatical error in a public sample – which might cost you business, apart from anything else – and you respond that I’m arrogant? I think an editor who can’t spot grammatical failures is pretty arrogant to set tests for others, to be honest.
Never mind, we would never have got on anyway.
And life is too short to waste on such pettiness. So that’s one place you won’t be finding this arrogant writer’s prose!