Zane is a fabulously popular black erotica writer who is fast becoming a cottage industry for ethnic erotica. She put out a call for submissions for short stories for a new erotic anthology titled Caramel Flava, which was to feature Hispanic, Latino, and/or brown main characters. Many writers were put off by the tone of the call for submissions. I was too, but damn if I didn't think of a story, Tomorrow's Saints, so I submitted it. Writer friend Teresa Lamai also submitted something. As far as I know (or anyone would confess) we were the only two from the Erotica Readers and Writer's Association lists who did.
Later, Teresa happily reported that her story was accepted. We all did a happy dance for her as the pay rate for Flava is better than most anthologies, the number of copies being printed approaches a mainstream release, Zane's name has enough power to put those books on the tables at the entrance of a bookstore, and the book might even grab a coveted "featured" display.
Since I didn't receive an acceptance letter, I assumed my story was rejected. Writing rejection letters might not be fun for editors, but it's part of their job, damn it. Was I supposed to wait until I saw it in a bookstore to find out- nearly a year later- when I could have been submitting that story to other publishers? That seems to be the general idea. It truly angers me that some editors treat writers with such disregard. (Which is why I'm usually so careful about who I submit to. Every editor I've worked with so far I'd happily work with again, even some who have rejected stories.)
As I said, I assumed my story was rejected, but to make sure, I sent an email and mailed a formal letter requesting the status of my story. They never bothered to answer. Another serious breach of professional manners. Ugh. So I put them on my "Do Not Submit To In The Future" list. End of story, right? Nope.
A couple months ago I got an email telling me that my story was being seriously considered for Flava II. They didn't ask if it was still available, or if I had any interest in letting them publish it. As irritated as I was, because of the positives listed above, I bit my tongue and decided to wait to see what happened. Strangely enough, Teresa Lamai got the same email. She commented that she thought they had her story in Flava I, but apparently not.
Last night, Teresa posted a comment to the list that she'd received copies of Flava I and her story was in it after all. But - I'm cringing for her - they edited grammatical errors into the first two paragraphs of her story. This is a serious problem. We writers only get a paragraph or two to grab our readers. If the work is unreadable, the reader moves on. While Zane's reputation rests on the sales of several books, Teresa's professional reputation is on the line with that one story - a reputation that the editor working for Zane's publisher damaged. And the insane part is that it's a sin of commission, not omission. The editor changed Teresa's words from beautiful to illiterate. It was done on purpose by people who supposedly know their way around a copy of Strunk & White's.
I'm seriously considering withdrawing my story from submission. These people have not impressed me with their professionalism, and now I fear what they might do to my story. Since they have yet to respond to a letter from me, I doubt they'd notice a formal withdrawal from consideration though. The other choice is to red-line the contract (if I get one) so that I have final say over edits. That won't make me popular with the publisher, but at least it will save me the humiliation Teresa is facing.
By the way - Teresa's story will also be in next year's Mammoth Book of Erotica which is edited by Maxim Jakubowski. I suggest you wait to read it there, where it will appear in it's original, unmutilated, form.