Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Writers Blaming Editors

Funniest Thing I Have Read…

Now granted, for most beginning writers, if they read a writer blaming an editor for a rejection, they would nod sagely and say, “Yeah, editors just don’t get me either.”


More than likely your story didn’t work. Or it didn’t fit what the editor was looking for in their magazine, or the editor had just bought a story similar to it two weeks earlier, or… or… or…

But blaming an editor because the editor did not “see” how really deep your subtext was on page seven and your nifty plot twist on page twenty…

Uh… no.

And I bet if you are thinking like that because you rewrote it a good three or four times to make sure it was perfect. Right?

Yeah… that always works.

So yesterday, on the bastion of truth, justice, and stupidity called FACEBOOK, I read this writer talking about how editors didn’t understand his brilliance.

And he was serious. Right out there in public for others to see.

And he went on and on.

A couple of well-intentioned experienced editors tried to gently move this person off that stupidity, but of course the writer was having none of it. It couldn’t be the writer’s fault that his masterwork was rejected, it had to be the editor’s ignorance to good writing.

Uh… no.

So sadly, I laughed, kept my fingers off the keyboard, and moved on, hoping against all hope that that writer never decides to take a workshop from me, at least until some common sense cuts down the ego some.

I am not holding my breath.

But wow, it was funny. Sad, I grant you because so many people clicked that they liked and agreed with his egotistical post. But to a long-term experienced editor like me, it was damned funny.


  • Denton Salle

    And all this time I thought it was I needed to get better and be more targeted in my submissions like I had to learn in my day job. I could be just blaming it on the editor.

    • dwsmith

      Ruth, thank you!! That is fantastic and spot on the money in so many ways. The agent part is so true and so few writers know it. What period of time were you at Bantam? I worked with them on numbers of projects over the years from 1991-1999 or so. First part working with Lou Aronica in a co-publishing arrangement we had with my company and Bantam, after 1994 numbers of writing projects as a writer and a ghost writer.

      Folks, read this. If you are surprised at all, you need to read it two or three more times. Thank you, Ruth, for bringing back some of my shudders about working with and in New York. (grin)

      • Nathan Haines

        From the comments over there:

        “… I’m taking a short story workshop from two editors (both award winning), and one of the screening methods they used was to see if setting or the five senses was missing. … I’ve heard many, many times over the years, writers say, ‘I don’t like description. I’d rather let the reader imagine it.’ Not only is it a complete cop-out, the writer is giving up his/her control of the story, when they should be taking control instead.”

        Do I get three guesses who those editors might be? 😀

      • Ruth Harris

        Dean, I was at Bantam back when Oscar Dystel was running it and Len Leone was the Art Director.

        As a young reader of the Bantam slush pile (aargh) and as to editors “not understanding” genius, I will point out that every time an editor opens a new submission, s/he hopes to be thrilled and delighted! Not to be discouraged and disappointed. Editors aren’t perfect, but they also aren’t fools. Or masochists.

        What were you writing and/or ghosting at Bantam? Sorry the memory brings back shudders, but we’ve all been there. 😉

        • dwsmith

          Can’t say on the books I ghosted (NDA), for Bantam a couple bestsellers that missed deadlines. (It was a different time back then.) Mostly with Bantam in 1990-1992 I worked with the publisher, Lou Aronica, on a co-publishing arrangement with my publishing company, Pulphouse Publishing. Great fun but a different time. Sort of the last years of the old publishing world, before the distribution collapse.

  • Kristi N.

    But—-(sigh). I know there are certain genres where the writer’s brilliance is more important than the story. I know there are places where the writer must demonstrate she is not only educated in the more obscure schools of criticism but is also clever at applying them in new ways to old literature. But all I’ve ever wanted is to tell a story, and to do so in such a way that my fingerprints and smudges aren’t so very obvious on the final product. As a writer, I want to disappear so the reader only sees the story, and not a turn of phrase or subtext or a million other things I’m too clumsy and unskilled to put in there deliberately without ruining the enjoyment in a simple, straightforward story. At times I’ve despaired of ever reaching the point where I’ve learned the craft enough to hide my hand in the words. I’ll leave the pursuit of brilliance to others, and keep trudging on my little deer trail trying to find the place where my story is good enough to at least afford a reader a few hours of escape into a different world.

  • Joseph Bradshaw/Bradshire

    I’ve only ever submitted to one editor. They sent me a note back that my story was fine, but they have other plans for that year’s anthology.

    It never entered my mind that the editor was wrong. Lol. The story was what the editor said it was. Just fine.

    I released that story on amazon and kept chugging along. Like you do.