Unprofessionalism

November 20, 2016

Unprofessional. It’s a word no one likes to hear, especially when directed at themselves. Well, some people get a kick out of it, but that’s usually a false reaction, fake laughter used to cover up the pain of the reality that someone has just dumped on them worse than The Rock giving Mankind all those chairshots way back in ’99.

Ahem. Anyway.

No one likes to hear it, and no one wants to believe it’s true. But there are times when even the most depraved, the most “lower-rung” people need to shout it out, and let someone know. Or sometimes, let something know.

Like a publication, perhaps.

Don’t get me wrong, professionalism is rampant in the publishing industry. I would certainly hope that no publication would go to “print” if it wasn’t up to snuff, but the people behind it can sure have some unprofessional behaviors.

Some really shitty unprofessional behaviors.

I understand I’m at their mercy. I send them a story in the hopes that not only are they going to publish it and help boost my career by however much more it can with the people that read their magazine, but also in hopes that they’ll hand me money. I get it. I don’t have a lot of room to complain.

So why do I have to sit and wait with my mouth shut when they break their promises?

A very major, very well known science-fiction publication currently has a story of mine for consideration in an upcoming issue. One thing I love about them is they have a monitoring system, where I can see the progress on the story. Is it simply received? Is it under review? Has it been rejected? I can see with my own eyes the answer to that question! Holy fuck the future kicks ass!

They tell us writers to wait about two weeks before we get an answer. In worst case scenarios, it could take upwards of three months! I get it—a popular mag like that, especially one that pays as well as it does, and they’ll definitely have a massive slush pile to get through. Even with twenty first readers working around the clock, I can believe that they’ll have a lengthy wait.

Well, it’s been almost four months. Guess what the status on my story is?

Received.

Fucking received. They haven’t even opened it up and read it yet! And guess what? If I email them and follow the progress from that moment on, I guarantee that within 24 hours the progress will go from under review to rejected. Then they’ll send me a form letter without an apology, and move on.

Because fuck me, right?

Because I’m just a flyspeck in the grand scheme of science fiction, and they know it.

Because they’re unprofessional.

I’m tempted to email, and have been for some time. Oh no, I won’t be asking about the progress of my story. I’ll be telling them to just forget about it. I know and they know, before even reading the story, that their answer is going to be no.

Cynical? Damn straight. Honest and realistic? You better believe it. Irritated and frustrated? Of course I am.

Look, I get it. I’m no one. I’m not a well-known author that they’d be honored to publish. My story might be good, it might even be great. But I have to be realistic here. They haven’t bothered to look at it yet, so why would they give a flying rat’s ass about it now?

The same goes for a lot of publications, too. They hold on to your story forever, only to give you the most basic rejection letter. Reading some of the editor’s blogs from these magazines, however, I can only come to the conclusion that they’re more interested in people paying attention to them and the crazy, goofy, nerdy hobbies that they partake in than the magazine they’ve signed on to edit.

Unprofessional.

If I were editing a project, something I plan to do in the future, I wouldn’t make it about me. It’d be about the hard working authors who submit their stories to it. It’d be about the stories themselves, not the lines I’ve broken just to add my voice into the chorus of mewling people hoping to change something that isn’t even in need of fixing. It’d be about the entertainment that you, the reader, gets out of it.

Not me.

But hey, I can’t change that. I’ve recently decided that since the few publications available to me aren’t even acknowledging my existence, I’ve got to move on from short stories. I’ve got to move on to finishing the big works, and getting them out there.

I’ve got to make this matter, and say fuck you to the unprofessional assholes who’ve tried to keep me down.

Now, you’re probably wondering, what if one of those magazines does accept my story? What if they do eventually get back to me? What if something really bad happened, like a bad injury/illness/death? I’ll accept that, but you know what? I hope they understand they just need to maintain their promises. I’ve learned that there are some people just not worth your time when it comes to these things, and I really hope that list doesn’t keep growing.

“Why not just self-publish, Myke? Only you are in your own way in that case.”

I did. Don’t you remember? Surely you downloaded or purchased one of my stories, and then left a nice review for it, right? Sure you did.

Just get over it, right? Just deal with it. No one wants to hear my bitching. I get it, sure I do. But don’t make a promise and then expect everyone to bend over and back away.

It’s a strange life I’ve chosen. I’ve gotten used to the let-downs, but trust me, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. And that is professional on my behalf.

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