How to kill a writing career--Jules Jones

Sunday, January 18, 2009

There are Bad Publishers out there who will try to scare inexperienced authors into putting up with abuse by threatening them with being put on the industry blacklist. As lots of more experienced authors will point out, there is no such blacklist. If your writing's good enough to be interesting to one publisher, it's good enough to be interesting to another, because there really aren't many niches that are small enough that there's just one publisher and its tentacles.

So yes, blacklists are mostly not an issue. Mostly. Because there is one way to get on a blacklist. That way is to behave so appallingly badly in public that every editor in your genre decides independently that they do not want to have anything to do with you ever again, in case they have to deal with the crazy. Editors do not like having to deal with the crazy. They can always find another author who doesn't do what Kevin W. Reardon aka Cole Adams appears to have done, which is to repeatedly suggest to an editor suffering from depression that he should commit suicide, and follow that up with a death threat. All because said editor had a one line unfavourable comment about Reardon's short story in a post commenting about stories he was considering for a reprint anthology.

It's possible that the guy's being framed by someone else posting under his name, but the timeline suggests it's real.[*]
Poppy Z Brite has a particularly lucid summary of what happened at http://docbrite.livejournal.com/656896.html and Nick Mamatas has some links direct to the relevant comments at http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1249222.html

I did the odd bit of anthology editing long and long ago. The therapy worked and I'm on the wagon, but I can still see things from the editor's side of the slushpile, if I squint. This is the sort of thing that makes me think that the easiest way to deal with seeing a particular name at the top of a submission is to reject it without reading it. Because who wants to deal with edits on a story where the author is that sensitive to any suggestion that his prose is less than perfect?

[*The editor in question confirms that there's solid evidence it's really Reardon in a comment to this post: "Please note that I asked the publisher of the anthology to speak to the author. He did so and received word back, confirming this was not a case of 'sock-puppetry.'" ]

7 comments:

Emily Veinglory 1:50 PM  

My brief experience trying to edit an anthology was enough to learn it really is a thankless task.

mroctober 4:18 PM  

Please note that I asked the publisher of the anthology to speak to the author. He did so and received word back, confirming this was not a case of 'sock-puppetry.'

Jules Jones 4:35 PM  

Thanks, Steve. Malicious sock-puppetery was my one concern about reporting on this -- I'll add a footnote to the main post.

Anonymous,  9:00 PM  

Having edited anthologies and susequently been insulted/name-called by authors I rejected for those anthologies, I can say this kind of wacko behavior by writers (even professional, well-pubbed ones) is pretty common.

And if you really want to see professional authors in serious need of major psychiatric help, just go read the Dear Author comment boards sometime.

Jules Jones 1:28 AM  

Anonymous, you can assume that many of the people who hang out here also hang out on Dear Author.

Anonymous,  9:34 AM  

The Dear Author boards are unmoderated; therefore it's not uncommon to see absolutely appalling behavior on them, often by published authors.

Ed,  3:04 PM  

I used to date Kevin years ago. After five months we broke up. He then started to send emails (dozens a day) filled with rage. They were short, usually making fun of me or wishing death to members of my family. He certainly does have anger issues.

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