Sunday, December 14, 2008

Editorial Sensitivity?

Erastes on LJ posted a link to the submission guidelines for Eternal Press. They contain this passage:

Send us a cover letter and please tell us what questionable content may be found within the MS as we do not wish to subject our editors to content that may put them at risk emotionally.

I was rather taken aback by this statement. I've never seen any such requirement in any other market's guidelines, so what's up with this? Do they really have one or more editors who are so delicate that they need to have their slush pre-screened for them? Maybe those individuals would do better working for a publisher specializing in children's books, or inspirational lit, or any other publisher that doesn't accept fiction with adult themes; there are quite a few of those, after all. Why would an editor who's that emotionally sensitive take a job with a publisher which accepts:

Mystery, sci-fi, paranormal, historical, suspense, horror, women's fiction, fantasy, thrillers, erotica, gay and all sub genres of romance as well as.

Any of those genres might well include "icky" material, but particularly the suspense, horror, erotica and romance.

[And hey, Eternal Press -- your guidelines need editing.]

They also assume their readers are just as twitchy:

We do put disclaimers about the content if it could potentially disturb our consumers

Umm, why? This isn't traditional, not in erotica and not in general literature. A few publishers have begun to do it recently, but I don't care for the practice and am never happy to see it spreading.

It's not that abiding by this requirement would be horribly onerous or anything. Everything else looks fine (although kidding aside, their guidelines really do need editing, in more than one spot, which doesn't inspire great confidence about the editing of their books) and they pay a nice royalty, but this requirement to put a warning label on the cover of your story just makes me twitch. I mean, seriously, an editor at a publisher of horror, romance and erotica who has to be protected from "questionable" material? That's like going to the vet and having to warn them ahead of time that your dog's been vomiting, because they have a doctor who's icked out by vomit. Sorry, hon, it's part of the job -- you deal with it or find work elsewhere.

It's unfortunate, but I think I'll pass.



Travis Erwin said...

Those guidelines do seem peculiar. Maybe the company is owned by lawyers.

Charles Gramlich said...

Is it a Christian press or something? seems weird.

Natasha Fondren said...

Hah! I had to laugh, because I kept thinking, "What in the world were they receiving that prompted that requirement?"


But... you're right. It's a bit odd.

Angie said...

Travis -- I'm trying to imagine them being afraid of being sued by one of their employees who had some sort of episode after reading submitted manuscript.... [squint] Nope, still sounds dumb. It's as good a guess as any, though, and I have a feeling any explanation would sound ridiculous.

Charles -- it doesn't seem to be. And I can't see a Christian press accepting erotica in the first place.

SS -- LOL! Okay, now you've got me wondering too. :D Although considering what I've read in my lifetime, even if you only count professionally published work, I still have a hard time imagining them getting a submission so far outside the norm that it would have reasonably required some kind of prior warning, like a leper shrouded in robes and ringing a bell as he hobbles through town. [bemused smile] It still sounds to me like someone is just way too delicate for her/his job.


writtenwyrdd said...

"EternalPress" sounds like a religiously oriented press. Which means that anything you wouldn't find in Bollywood movie (except navels, those should be omitted, too) can't be in the manuscript without warning them.

Yep. That one's a pass.

Angie said...

WW -- you know, I hadn't even thought of the company name from that POV. [ponder]

I can see the connection, but nothing else about them looks religious. Their home page even says "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas." And why the heck would a religious publisher accept erotica in the first place? No clue. It's all squirrely enough to make me move on and submit elsewhere, though. [nod]


laughingwolf said...

wtf century are THEY in? grrrrrrr

Steve Malley said...

I'm with scribbler on that one. I kept asking myself 'what *does* their submission pile look like?'

Charles Gramlich said...

BTW, I finally was able to order "Candy Courage" and have it on my desktop right now. I should get around to it this week.

Angie said...

LW -- sounds like around 1950 to me. :P

Steve -- I'd honestly be surprised if their slush pile looked much different from that of any other publisher which accepts erotica. [wry smile] I'm betting the problem is behind the desks, not on them.

Charles -- that's great, I hope you enjoy it! :D


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I think it is a legal liability thing. This country has got a real problem and needs to have major tort reform of the trial court process. You should not be able to sue anyone for any reason. They are probably afraid of emotional harm lawsuit or something. In fact, this is probably a reaction to having already been sued once.

Angie said...

Ello -- you know, you're very possibly correct. Which doesn't stop it from being ridiculous. [sigh]


Jessica Freely said...

In focusing on the content of submissions, Eternal Press is overlooking the leading cause of emotional damage in editors: bad grammar. In fact, if there are errors in their submission guidelines, then it is clear that they have a hostile work environment and their employees should file a harrassment suit against them.

Angie said...

Jessica -- LOL! Excellent point. :D I know that kind of stuff icks me out more than any commercial or trying-to-be-commercial fiction ever has, and I've read some seriously squirrely stuff.


Ann Somerville said...

right, so no death fic submissions for them :)

Angie said...

Ann -- I know people who get squicked out by mentions of toes, too, so nothing with toes. And canned peas are pretty disgusting, so we'd better not mention those either. And, and, and.... :D


Ann Somerville said...

"I know people who get squicked out by mentions of toes"

And I get squicked by people with no toes. The irresistible force meets the immovable object, quel horreur!

Angie said...

Ann -- LOL! Well, if you ever end up as an editor working for an erotica publisher with my friend who's squicked out by toes, we'll have to make sure the slush-screener is very careful not to hand either one of you the wrong kind of manuscript. [solemn nod]


Holly Jahangiri said...

I can't stop giggling at this. But Angie, I think you're being a bit disingenuous about this - the next two paragraphs specify the sort of content they mean. They should have written better transitions to show that these three paragraphs were closely linked, for those who need to be told that scenes involving rape and child abuse may be triggering. It might be better to say to the editors, "Look, we know economic times are tough, but one of the requirements of the job is that you be able to tough it out through all manner of literary horrors, including scenes of rape, child abuse, and atrocious grammar."

I just laughed my you-know-what off at Jessica Freely's comment. I agree wholeheartedly!

Angie said...

Holly -- "Look, we know economic times are tough, but one of the requirements of the job is that you be able to tough it out through all manner of literary horrors, including scenes of rape, child abuse, and atrocious grammar."

That's exactly it, though. [nod] If you're an editor, and particularly if you're an editor for a house which publishes romance, horror and erotica, then reading that sort of thing is part of your job. Anyone who's triggery on that or just about anything else simply shouldn't work there, period. It's like someone who's grossed out to the point of vomiting by contact with excrement -- if that's how you are, they you don't become a vet or a vet tech, period. I know there are people with very real adverse reactions to this or that, but IMO part of taking responsibility for yourself means avoiding situations which require you to be faced with your triggers or challenges or whatever.

Jim's legally blind so he's not a baseball player. Someone who triggers on rape becoming an editor for an erotica publisher and then demanding to be protected from manuscripts containing mentions or depictions of rape is like Jim declaring himself a pro ball player and demanding that they change the game so that he never needs to able to see a ball in motion. Both are equally ridiculous.

If I sound disingenuous, it's probably because I'm restraining myself from saying what I actually think of these people in plainer language. [wry smile] I'm trying to be at least somewhat detached, and it's obviously not working. Ah, well. :)

And I agree with Jessica too. :D From what one of my editors has said, I could not deal with some of the stuff that crosses her desk. [shudder]