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Sea Witch
01-21-2012, 01:16 AM
Did anyone see this controversial article (http://mobiusmagazine.com/comment/essay22.4.html) in Mobius about the whims of editors and publishers? alexshvartsman showed it to me.

Here's one rebuttal (http://mobiusmagazine.com/comment/rebut22.4.html).

And here's another (http://mobiusmagazine.com/comment/thought22.4.html) take.

I apologize if this has already been discussed. I did a search and didn't see it anywhere.

James D. Macdonald
01-21-2012, 01:31 AM
Controversial?

It's the same old stunt that someone pulls every couple of years.

See: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007138.html

The Lonely One
01-21-2012, 01:52 AM
I wonder if any of these journals are old enough to have rejected the real Faulkner as well? These 'greats' didn't always get insta-acceptances...

I'm sure journals are willing to print crappy stories by sure-selling authors, but the more those authors sell their magazines, the more spots they can offer to new authors as well.

For instance, F&SF features new authors, but also features authors like Bradbury. I love Bradbury, but I've read stuff of his that appeared there that none of us would get away with. I've also read stuff of his that utterly blew me away like a shotgun to the face. But even if there is some amount of name-based acceptance, it can be helpful to new authors, as Bradbury will sell an issue of ANYTHING. And hopefully those Bradbury readers will also read the new-author content.

CrastersBabies
01-21-2012, 01:53 AM
Who the heck writes like Faulkner anymore?

mscelina
01-21-2012, 02:17 AM
I like it when authors send me things like that. A few months ago, I busted an author for submitting his already published work to me--a work that I most unfortunately remembered from a previous submission at another house. All he did was change the character names and titles; about ten minutes of judicious googling took me to his book sales page at his publisher--who'd published the book in June--where I discovered that the excerpt on his sales page began on page three of the first twenty pages, second paragraph down. Save for the changed names? Word for word.

Editors can not only recognize good writing, but bad writing and plagiarized writing--given the right circumstances. That author taught me a lesson; I am VERY particular about running Google searches now on first paragraphs or synopses on submissions. And while I am quite certain that overworked and overwhelmed slush pile readers can be caught out in mistakes, I know for a fact that busy and overworked editors can.

But this isn't down to the whims of agents and editors. This is down to people who, for kicks and giggles, decide to waste the time of an industry professional through deceit and misrepresentation just to try to make a tired old point--and one that's nowhere near accurate.

Editors and agents look for good, clean writing and a great story--and one that's not been told by someone else. So you'd do better to think more about sending in original material written by you, polished until it shines and with a heck of a query letter, than worrying over the whims of agents and editors. Things like this just waste everyone's time. :)

Jamesaritchie
01-21-2012, 02:19 AM
Some idiot pulls this stunt darned near every year, and all it ever proves is that some people have far too much time on their hands. Though apparently not enough time to spend two minutes online seeing how often this stupid stunt is pulled.

James D. Macdonald
01-21-2012, 02:48 AM
May I also add that 4,000 words pulled out of a 430-page novel won't have the pacing or story arc of a short story.

MJNL
01-21-2012, 03:04 AM
So, do people just suddenly forget that editors are individual people with individual tastes and opinions, or...what? I don't like Faulkner. If I were an editor, I would reject his work. I don't always agree with what gets into best-of anthologies. There's a lot out there I like for various reasons, and a lot I don't. If readers can't always agree on what's good and what's not, why should editors be expected to? They're readers. They're people.

Is it just me, or shouldn't that be obvious?

The Lonely One
01-21-2012, 03:07 AM
May I also add that 4,000 words pulled out of a 430-page novel won't have the pacing or story arc of a short story.

I think the response article (the one by the poetry editor, I believe) pointed to that very fact.

I actually think the response was more worth reading than the original, which came off as "I keep getting rejected--no way it has anything to do with me!"

MJNL
01-21-2012, 03:09 AM
I actually think the response was more worth reading than the original, which came off as "I keep getting rejected--no way it has anything to do with me!"

Exactly.

The Otter
01-21-2012, 03:14 AM
It's interesting that so few people caught on (especially considering how often these kind of pranks are pulled) but I'm not sure the article proves anything other than what we already know; that it's tough to get published, even if you're Faulkner. Or someone ripping him off.

Also, it reeks of entitlement mentality. "The American Dream declares that if you work hard and are dedicated and persistent, you’ll eventually achieve your goal. As it should be, otherwise what’s the point of having dreams and aspirations?" It would be nice if reality worked that way, but there aren't any such guarantees in life, and a logical adult ought to know this. No, just because you want to be a famous rock star billionaire and work hard at it does not necessarily mean it will happen. Otherwise there would be a massive surplus of famous rock stars billionaires.

The Lonely One
01-21-2012, 03:24 AM
... I'm not sure the article proves anything other than what we already know; that it's tough to get published, even if you're Faulkner. Or someone ripping him off.


I think that's a great way of looking at it. The American Dream is a bit of a logical fallacy and is mainly a nationalistic rhetoric akin to the Manifest Destiny. I think rags to riches is the exception, not the rule. Otherwise there'd be no slums or poverty or crime. More often than not, the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Rock star dreams seem inconsequential to me next to a desire to contribute something you find important the best way you know how. If the big houses keep shunning this author, why doesn't he try an indy press and work really hard on spreading his work by word of mouth? Why is he relying on journals that ALL of us have trouble getting into?

I think the kindest thing I can say about this writer is that he's short-sighted.

Stacia Kane
01-21-2012, 04:31 AM
It's interesting that so few people caught on (especially considering how often these kind of pranks are pulled)


Except the fact that the editors in question didn't say "Yeah, we recognize this work" doesn't mean they didn't in fact recognize it. Nor does the fact that they made comments like "Show, don't tell!" mean they didn't recognize it.

Every editor I've ever heard discuss this subject says no way will they actually mention plagiarism in their rejection, because it's just not worth the very high potential for arguments and threats and whatever else. More than one editor I've spoken with would find it hilarious--and has found it hilarious--to reject plagiarized work with editorial comments just like those.


So again, yeah, this proves nothing except that the article's author is a self-important jerk who likes to waste the time of professionals.

Jamesaritchie
01-21-2012, 06:18 AM
It's interesting that so few people caught on (especially considering how often these kind of pranks are pulled) but I'm not sure the article proves anything other than what we already know; that it's tough to get published, even if you're Faulkner. Or someone ripping him off.

.

It doesn't even prove this much, or anything close to it. A writer who pulls this silliness should at least be smart enough to send a current story by a current writer.

Style matters, content matters, etc. A story that was easy to sell when Faulkner was alive is likely to be an impossible sell now, even if every sentence is updated start to finish.

And you never, ever know whether an editor caught on or not. Editors sometimes don't catch on, and so what? An editor is supposed to recognize every short story by every writer who ever lived? Or think a story as old as this one fits in a current magazine?

Do you think a story by Melville or Dickens or even Jack London would have fared any better? Good is not good enough. A story must be good, and must fit today's world in every way.

But even when they do catch on, odds are still good that they won't mention it, and nothing means less than what a rejection says. Rejections often aren't even written by the same person who read the story, or they have a predetermined sets of flaws listed, which may or may not be pertinent.

People who pull this stunt simply have no common sense, and no understanding about publishing at all. They always seem to think they're the first genius to try this, but I first saw it pulled forty-two years ago (The writer did send a contemporary story, and the editor caught it at once. He didn't tell the writer he caught on, but he did.), and it was as dumb then as it is now.

The Otter
01-21-2012, 07:49 AM
Except the fact that the editors in question didn't say "Yeah, we recognize this work" doesn't mean they didn't in fact recognize it. Nor does the fact that they made comments like "Show, don't tell!" mean they didn't recognize it.

Every editor I've ever heard discuss this subject says no way will they actually mention plagiarism in their rejection, because it's just not worth the very high potential for arguments and threats and whatever else. More than one editor I've spoken with would find it hilarious--and has found it hilarious--to reject plagiarized work with editorial comments just like those.


So again, yeah, this proves nothing except that the article's author is a self-important jerk who likes to waste the time of professionals.

I'd think if the editors recognized it was plagiarized, they wouldn't bother responding at all; they'd just toss it aside in disgust. It kind of surprises me that some of them would play along and give editorial comments even if they know the person is pranking them. I guess I can see why they would find it funny, but it seems unwise to me. It's just validating the trolls and giving them what they want.

But I'd agree with the last comment. Sending an editor plagiarized work is not only a waste of time, it's probably illegal. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these people got in trouble over it. I mean, what are they planning to do if the editor accepts their work? "Uhh, actually, that's not mine..."

The Otter
01-21-2012, 07:58 AM
It doesn't even prove this much, or anything close to it. A writer who pulls this silliness should at least be smart enough to send a current story by a current writer.

Style matters, content matters, etc. A story that was easy to sell when Faulkner was alive is likely to be an impossible sell now, even if every sentence is updated start to finish.

I guess the perception is that good literature is supposed to be timeless and "good" regardless of the era, but yeah, that's not really the case. What was popular decades ago would be utterly unpublishable now.


Do you think a story by Melville or Dickens or even Jack London would have fared any better? Good is not good enough. A story must be good, and must fit today's world in every way.

I'm sure anything by Melville would be rejected instantly. I find his style impossibly dry. Like chewing on cardboard.

And I'd agree; there's no such thing as objectively good writing, because what makes writing "good" is constantly changing, and awareness of the market and what people are looking for is just as important as knowing how to string together a coherent sentence.

But even if the person used a current example of published work, I think the point they're making would still be rather...pointless. Yeah, not every editor is going to think something is good, even if it was a bestseller. That doesn't mean they're stupid, it means tastes are different.

Terie
01-21-2012, 01:30 PM
I mean, what are they planning to do if the editor accepts their work? "Uhh, actually, that's not mine..."

Yanno, now that you mention it, this might be the most amusing response of all. And even more amusing if the editor put the actual author's name in the salutation of the acceptance letter. 'Dear Mr Faulkner, I'm pleased to accept your short story....'

Stacia Kane
01-21-2012, 04:44 PM
Yanno, now that you mention it, this might be the most amusing response of all. And even more amusing if the editor put the actual author's name in the salutation of the acceptance letter. 'Dear Mr Faulkner, I'm pleased to accept your short story....'


Mr Faulkner! I thought you were dead!



http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y153/sidgirl/snake-plissken.jpg

Sea Witch
01-21-2012, 05:49 PM
New Info:

Aside from the 2 rebuttal articles I mentioned in my first post, alexshvartsman from AW wrote his own rebuttal in his blog, here (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/17/rejecting-faulkner/).

And guess what happened!

McFetridge wrote a virulent reply (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/20/from-the-desk-of-mr-mcfetridge/#comments) to Alex's article here.

Apparently Mr. McFetridge doesn't like it when people disagree with him.

Stacia Kane
01-21-2012, 06:10 PM
Wait, you mean someone who's a petulant brat about his rejections, thinks it's cool to waste the time or professionals, and knows so little about publishing that he thinks his trick proves anything at all is actually a jerk when people point out his petulant, time-wasting brattiness?

*shocked*

CrastersBabies
01-21-2012, 08:32 PM
New Info:

Aside from the 2 rebuttal articles I mentioned in my first post, alexshvartsman from AW wrote his own rebuttal in his blog, here (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/17/rejecting-faulkner/).

And guess what happened!

McFetridge wrote a virulent reply (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/20/from-the-desk-of-mr-mcfetridge/#comments) to Alex's article here.

Apparently Mr. McFetridge doesn't like it when people disagree with him.

I couldn't even read it. I got this far:

"Youíre hardly worth the effort, but Iím bored. First of all, you donít know who I am . . ."

bearilou
01-21-2012, 10:05 PM
New Info:

Aside from the 2 rebuttal articles I mentioned in my first post, alexshvartsman from AW wrote his own rebuttal in his blog, here (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/17/rejecting-faulkner/).

And guess what happened!

McFetridge wrote a virulent reply (http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/20/from-the-desk-of-mr-mcfetridge/#comments) to Alex's article here.

Apparently Mr. McFetridge doesn't like it when people disagree with him.

Wow. Someone sounds bitter.

Excellent blog, Alex!

HapiSofi
01-21-2012, 11:22 PM
Every editor I've ever heard discuss this subject says no way will they actually mention plagiarism in their rejection, because it's just not worth the very high potential for arguments and threats and whatever else.
I did it once.

Let me emphasize that "once".

Sevvy
01-22-2012, 01:30 AM
Wow, what a brat.

I'm a slush pile reader. It's mostly about whether it fits with the journal, if it's well written (won't need tons of editing), and if I liked it. And if I find a story that isn't my cup of tea, but others might really enjoy, I'll pass it along to another reader for a second opinion. I think we do try to give each piece a chance.

alexshvartsman
01-22-2012, 07:15 AM
I couldn't even read it. I got this far:

"Youíre hardly worth the effort, but Iím bored. First of all, you donít know who I am . . ."

I wrote eslewhere that, if someone starts out a flame post with a version of "Do you know who I am," he better be the Juggernaut, or I'm not impressed.

Thanks for all the support, everyone!

swvaughn
01-22-2012, 08:35 AM
So, did anyone get as far in the original linked article to the point where this aspiring literary dude CALLED TWO EDITORS and pretended to be a well-known writer representing his protege (himself) so he could "get past the interns"?

Funny. He doesn't mention whether his "protege" pieces were accepted, even after a "famous writer" recommended them.

I think the phone calls are far more disturbing than the passed-off Faulkner excerpt.

Also... I skimmed that article. Too many big words for my underdeveloped brain. :D

HapiSofi
01-22-2012, 09:17 AM
I wrote elsewhere that if someone starts out a flame post with a version of "Do you know who I am," he better be the Juggernaut, or I'm not impressed.
I'd be intrigued by someone who claimed to be the Juggernaut, whether he was or not. That's far more interesting than an irate author with an agenda.

I've been trying to train my editor friends to automatically say "I'm sorry your work got rejected" when someone starts behaving bizarrely toward them. Being wrong one time in twenty is an acceptable rate of error.

Xelebes
01-22-2012, 10:09 AM
So, did anyone get as far in the original linked article to the point where this aspiring literary dude CALLED TWO EDITORS and pretended to be a well-known writer representing his protege (himself) so he could "get past the interns"?

Funny. He doesn't mention whether his "protege" pieces were accepted, even after a "famous writer" recommended them.

I think the phone calls are far more disturbing than the passed-off Faulkner excerpt.

Also... I skimmed that article. Too many big words for my underdeveloped brain. :D

Oh, I am sure you can galvanise eminent floccinaucinihilipilificate into your tesseractoidal character developments in your terminal hierogamic inexactitudes.

alexshvartsman
01-22-2012, 06:49 PM
Oh, I am sure you can galvanise eminent floccinaucinihilipilificate into your tesseractoidal character developments in your terminal hierogamic inexactitudes.

Oh my. I had to Google "floccinaucinihilipilificate" to see if that was actually a word, and it is.

swvaughn
01-22-2012, 06:53 PM
Oh, I am sure you can galvanise eminent floccinaucinihilipilificate into your tesseractoidal character developments in your terminal hierogamic inexactitudes.

:ROFL:

Dude, I never galvanized no floccinaucinihilipilificates. Especially eminent ones. :D

bearilou
01-22-2012, 07:17 PM
Oh, I am sure you can galvanise eminent floccinaucinihilipilificate into your tesseractoidal character developments in your terminal hierogamic inexactitudes.

:Jaw: are they letting people do that in public now?

OtterFactory
01-22-2012, 08:02 PM
:Jaw: are they letting people do that in public now?

Yeah, a recent poem really got through to the congress, and they changed the laws.

To fauxiciliate--gesticulatingly-- atop arbors green,
Atop forgehull beams,
Atop hephaeton, satyricion geeves
(ventricles pushing into atria throbbing,
Lungs ballooning alveolingly, and jangling)--
Peristalsingly fingers piston, piston,
Throats with frogsong a blowing,
Billows bellow! Bells below,
Balls a binfintrotting, sweet Being!
People, go! Fauxiciliate atop arbors green!
Atop whalentrins and valentines
And every other thing!

swvaughn
01-22-2012, 10:31 PM
alveolingly

Best adverb ever. :D

MJNL
01-23-2012, 01:01 AM
Well written rebuttal, Alex. It's unfortunate (for him) that Mr. GD proved your point with his poorly thought out reply.

I also thought it was strange for someone who seems so against giving names weight to begin with "Alex (who?) ." Apparenlty he is a proponent of the same elitism he claims to rail against.

shaldna
01-23-2012, 03:05 PM
So again, yeah, this proves nothing except that the article's author is a self-important jerk who likes to waste the time of professionals.

Agreed. Perhaps if he spent that time writing a better book then he might have more success in actually getting it published.

Perks
01-23-2012, 06:05 PM
So, did anyone get as far in the original linked article to the point where this aspiring literary dude CALLED TWO EDITORS and pretended to be a well-known writer representing his protege (himself) so he could "get past the interns"?

Funny. He doesn't mention whether his "protege" pieces were accepted, even after a "famous writer" recommended them.

Ha! That's exactly where I was left. We wonders, we wonders.

CrastersBabies
01-23-2012, 09:40 PM
Wow, what a flaming turd. A guy who tries to weasel his way into getting publishing by lying about being some famous author's protege is complaining about rejections, then decides to get all "super Dateline To Catch an Editor" on magazines who will read his Faulkner'esque/Frankenstein lovechild and think, "who the hell writes like this anymore?"

and

gets all pissy when people call him out one of the most ill-conceived experiments to grace the internet?

I don't even know what to call that. Dude needs a new profession.

(Yes, I fail at grammar in this post)

Phaeal
01-23-2012, 11:31 PM
So, did anyone get as far in the original linked article to the point where this aspiring literary dude CALLED TWO EDITORS and pretended to be a well-known writer representing his protege (himself) so he could "get past the interns"?


This was the only part that interested me. I wonder which famous writer he impersonated. I, too, wonder what happened to the "mentor-recommended" stories, if they were ever submitted.

If the famous-writer-calls stories are true, it is galling to think that a fortunate few are jumping over the slush pile right into the chief editor's hands. But hey. Favoring those one knows (or wants to know) seems to be built into the human psyche -- you can see the survival benefits.

Sea Witch
01-23-2012, 11:53 PM
....If the famous-writer-calls stories are true, it is galling to think that a fortunate few are jumping over the slush pile right into the chief editor's hands. But hey. Favoring those one knows (or wants to know) seems to be built into the human psyche -- you can see the survival benefits.

You know, it's probably true. But really, is this any different from any other profession? Professional courtesy among doctors/lawyers/tradespeople/ Don't you think that admissions at university plays by these rules? Some other students still get in too. I mean don't you get a better table or better service or more food even in a restaurant if you know the Chef?

That doesn't mean that others don't get good food too.

alexshvartsman
01-24-2012, 05:25 AM
For those of you who're curious, Mr. McFetridge responded to people's comments in a somewhat more tempered post:

http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/01/20/from-the-desk-of-mr-mcfetridge/#comment-132

Ari Meermans
01-24-2012, 05:37 AM
Very well done on your response to his comment, Alex. Nice job.

Invincibility
01-24-2012, 05:37 AM
Who the heck is this McFetridge guy and why does he have such a high opinion of himself? Just from the article he wrote, he comes across as an entitled, spoilt brat who can't handle rejection.

Al Stevens
01-24-2012, 06:23 AM
I guess Mr. McFet's pranks are now well-known. Which begs the question. Has his essay helped his chances of getting published? Or has he just committed professional kamikaze?

If slush portals have a <plonk> filter, I suspect his name is among the top five.

Sea Witch
01-24-2012, 06:29 AM
Good work, Alex!


I guess Mr. McFet's pranks are now well-known. Which begs the question. Has his essay helped his chances of getting published? Or has he just committed professional kamikaze?
....

This is my question too. Isn't it professional suicide to go out of your way to antagonize the people who pay you and/or publish your work?

MJNL
01-24-2012, 06:40 AM
Oh geez, what's going to happen when he stumbles upon AW? Surely thousands of members from vastly different walks of life can't all be in cahoots.

It's amazing how someone can blame everything and anything but the content of their work and their own documentable behavior.


Someone can't simply disagree with his point of view, oh no.

djf881
01-24-2012, 09:49 AM
If he wants to know why everyone rejects him, it's probably because of sentences like this:



So … I did my dog-and-pony show and she bit hook, line and sinker.


Also, he seems to be mentally ill.

Seriously, most of these literary magazines have more incoming submissions than outgoing subscriptions. Is it any wonder that a guy who phones about his submission and insists on talking to the editor isn't treated very well?

I'm doubtful that some of these conversations with unattributed people ever occurred. I don't trust a guy who submits other people's work under his own name, I don't trust unattributed quotes used by any author who is flagrantly axe grinding, and I don't believe that someone in his position would ever get these people to talk to him on the phone.