I strive to be professional in my work areas. I’m not always successful but I do my best.
I’ve been thinking a lot about professionalism. Kevin J. Anderson recently published a book called Slushpile Memories: How NOT to get Rejected. And one of the things he talks about is acting in a professional way.
It means reading the rules and following them. From everything I know about editing and having worked with writers, I am still amazed at how many people don’t. I don’t mean they missed something or even mistakes like sending the wrong manuscript. I mean they don’t even bother with the rules. Some don’t even read them.
Or they think they know better.
Then there are those that disagree with the editor and want to know why their story wasn’t accepted. Or they demand feedback from an overworked editor. In another case, someone kept sending in the same story to a series of anthologies.
I know that as I’m not a professional editor I’m lucky to not have to put up with these things on a regular basis, but I just don’t understand.
I am thrilled if an editor offers criticism. It means they liked my story enough to tell me why they had to reject it. I am okay when they don’t. Sometimes they don’t have a good reason or sometimes it just doesn’t quite fit in with other stories. So, the story goes off to another market. I also read more, study more, and work on making the next story better. I want some editor out there to see that my stories are improving. I want them to be eager to accept something I’ve sent them because they know I’m putting in the work. I don’t see it as something I’m entitled to.
Yeah, I get depressed. Rejection is depressing. But I’m not wailing about how awful editors are because they don’t love my stuff. I keep my head down and I keep learning. And I broaden where I learn things from, too. Because what I want is to be the best writer I can be.
And I guess, I want to add to the five hundred admonitions that Kevin gave to read the requirements of the editor, that yes, that’s being professional. And if a beginning writer manages only that, then they’ve a huge step up on all the others.