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Editors, Writers, and Petunias ( In the Small Press )

  • Posted by Admin
  • August 14, 2012 10:46 AM PDT
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Editors, Writers, and Petunias (In the Small Press) by Shauna Skye (from The Market List #4)

 

I'm amazed at people with green thumbs. They get on their hands and knees, dig in the dirt, sweat, and expend energy--and all for a bunch of "dumb" flowers!

But I say, thank God for flowers.

We small press editors are planting flowers--figuratively. We put a lot of work into what we do, with only blossoms to show for it. Sometimes I wish those blossoms were rectangular pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them; especially when the bills are due. But those aren't the blossoms I'm talking about.

As a small press editor I occasionally receive letters from people who think I have a huge office, and that I'm a money-making corporation. In my dreams! Actually my "office" consists of a computer and desk at the foot of my bed. (That way as soon as I wake up I can crawl out of bed and immediately type stories, letters, and swim through the slush pile; then when I'm tired of reading Charlee Jacob's poetry, or stories by Albert Manachino, I can crawl back to bed!)

Want to know what I'm really doing? (Besides developing carpal tunnel syndrome.) I'm planting little seeds of love. The stories, letters, and yes, even the slush pile is the fertile soil--and I am the master gardener. Bloom, I say! Bloom!

"Little seeds of love," you mutter, shaking your head. "Is there a shrink in the house?"

Seriously, just like a seed grows, small press issues grow. We editors slave over them not because we are masochists, but because we enjoy the final result. Our kind of publishing is not about money (though we'll certainly accept it if it comes our way) and though most of us cannot afford glossy colour covers we LOVE what we do. Why? Because we're proud to provide reading material unavailable on the news-stand! We like being our own bosses and having creative control. It tickles us to receive letters from people who say "I really enjoyed your last issue!" and thank-you notes from writers thrilled to have someone besides their spouse read their work.

But like flowers, small press publications usually last only a season. Some remain longer than others, but this depends largely on the editor/publisher's finances, his time, and whether life interferes with his project. People often have to concentrate on their "real" job, or their families who feel neglected, or their schooling; and in many cases, their own writing. (Most small press editors are themselves writers.)

Small press editors are often criticised for paying in contributor's copies, or small token payments. Yes, it would be nice if all writers could be paid for their work. It would also be terrific for editors who devote a large chunk of their life to their publications--only to go in the hole financially every time they publish--to be paid as well; but that's not how things work in small press! I'd change it if I could, but I don't know how. If you know, please tell me.

My advice? If you're a writer who doesn't like working for contributors copies, then only send to the markets who pay! There's no sense griping about it. And if you feel an editor is too demanding, and he/she isn't paying you for your trouble, there's a solution to that as well: send your story elsewhere!

Believe me, I know what it's like on both sides of the fence. I dislike whiny, anal-retentive editors; but I can also sympathise with them (most, at least). That person spending his/her money and slaving over a garden deserves to arrange the flowers THEIR way; however, if we don't like the gardener we don't give him our prize roses do we? We give them to the gardener who will appreciate them! Do you get my meaning?

Anyway, the Skye has spoken. You may now get on with your life. Be fruitful, multiply (live long and prosper <?>) and don't forget to water your blossoms!

 

Copyright © 1996 by Shauna Skye. All Rights Reserved.

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