The last panel* for me at Balticon was Editor’s Pet Peeves with Trisha Wooldridge, Sue Baiman, Keith DeCandido, and with Hildy Silverman moderating. Here are the takeaways from that panel.
What’s Your Top Advice?
- Look at the first chapter really, really hard. Figure out where the story starts. – Keith DeCandido
- Read your work out loud. – Sue Baiman
- Do your research-> Don’t assume you know. Please don’t hinge your plot on bad data. Try reading your manuscript, sentence by sentence, BACKWARDS. – Trisha Wooldridge
- Put your contact information ON the manuscript –
- Follow the guidelines. Sue Baiman
What’s Your Top Peeve?
- RESEARCH. Google at least a little. Mythbusters is great. – Trish Wooldridge
- Descriptions that don’t fit the genre. – Sue Baiman
- No Primadonnas. Accept edits.
- No primadonnas. Accept edits, don’t take it personally. – Keith DeCandido
- People who don’t proof-read themselves. – Hildy Silverman
- “Go and never darken my towels again!” (Marx Brothers) – Keither DeCandido
What Do Writers Do to Peeve You?
- If I give you a form rejection, don’t ask for more feedback. – Trish Wooldridge
- Don’t argue using logic.
- Don’t complain that I’m destroying your voice.
- Not listening to grammar feedback. – Sue Baiman
- “You charge HOW much to edit?!” You get what you pay for. – Trish Wooldridge
- Follow the actual theme when submitting to theme anthologies. Don’t waste my time. – Keith DeCandido
What Crazy Responses Do You Get?
- When told of bad habits, STOP. – Keith DeCandido
- Don’t Post Rejection Letters! – Hildy Silverman
What’s the Worst Formatted Submission You’ve Seen?
- 8 page cover letter. Claimed to be published in journals I cannot find proof exist. Barely under the maximum word count. In multiple colors, fonts, and styles. The submission read like it came through Google Translate. – Trish Wooldridge
- I heard about The Littlest Brownshirt (fascist fiction). Submitted in person by a man wearing loin cloth and carrying a sword. – Keith DeCandido
- The submission was 2 years late for the anthology, 1/4 the requested length, on the wrong size paper, hard to read due to an old ribbon on a dot matrix printer. With no margins. – Keith DeCandido
- I received a submission via mail (when we only accept e-submissions), that was not speculative fiction (we only work with speculative fiction), to the wrong editor (not even the right house). – Hildy Silverman
Why do you not give any positive feedback? That’s the empty space where I had no corrections! – Sue Baiman
Make sure you have the right editor for your genre. Hildy Silverman told a story of a lovely author at a literary workshop, paired with an editor that hated genre fiction, tore the decent story to shreds and the author was crushed and disheartened and has not been heard of since.
Warning: Your editor is your advocate at the publishing house. If they leave, your story is often orphaned. – Keith DeCandido
Who Is The Worst Novelist You’ve Edited?
- Comic book writers. They’re used to using ‘!’s because ‘.’s often get lost in hand lettered comics. They have issues maintaining a consistent point of view. – Keith DeCandido
- An author followed several round of edits to the letter, but somehow managed to miss the point. Then, was upset about how long it was taking for her work to finish editing.
* Not counting the prose workshop which was just work-shopping with 2 other writers