BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
The lit community is small, which means everyone knows each other to some extent. It's also made up of humans. These are two reasons why you probably want to be graceful and tactful when you deal with editors, publishers, and other writers. Mistakes happen, of course, and no one has all the right answers or ways to query/market, but at the same time, there are some common sense rules I try to abide by myself.
1. Don't ask them if they had a chance to read your manuscript/book/etc for review after you sent it.
Following up is a big no-no, especially in the case where this editor/publisher isn't even being paid to look at your work. Either way, if someone is considering to review your work, it takes a lot of time and energy to read the work and write something about it. Sometimes, someone decided that work isn't for them. Sometimes they are backlogged, and sometimes, they just don't have time. Of course, it IS nice for that editor to get back to you about it, but at the same time, no one owes you anything. Just because someone said they were interested in reading your manuscript doesn't mean they have to actually review it.
For me, I don't mind if someone does follow up, but it's about how it's being done. Don't tweet at me, for instance. It's rude. Email me something and throw in a line like "I get you're super busy, so no worries!" type deal, because it allows me to understand that you get I have a life of my own. And most editors are also writers, so keep in mind they're trying to market themselves too.
Looking as if the world owes you something isn't a good look.
2. Don't get mad if someone rejects your work and send nasty emails or make public threats or tweets or other unsavory comments.
Just, like, don't. Be nice. Clearly, this is the fast track to never being published.
3. In general, don't send repeated emails or requests for something (unless you're following up on payment, publication, etc).
If someone wants to do something for you, they will, even if it's not as fast as you want it to be. The more you bother someone, in my experience on both sides, the more it won't happen. You look as if you don't respect their time. Conversely, being "reminded" repeatedly usually makes me not want to help someone out because of that, because I feel like they don't care to understand how I have a day job and a million other things on my plate. Why would I want to work with someone or champion someone's work who doesn't respect my time?
If you have to follow up, because your work didn't appear/you didn't receive payment/etc, it's still important to be respectful. As a general rule, you don't want to burn a bridge unless you really have to.
4. Don't misspell their name in a submission or use the wrong magazine title.
I get it, it happens, but it'll probably lead to a rejection, so proofread.
5. If for some reason, there's an error on a piece you published on an online magazine, email the editor, don't tweet it out or say so on Facebook.
It's awkward for everyone. People make mistakes, you don't have to publicly call them out on it, especially if you want to work with those people again. It looks unintentionally catty. People do it without realizing that it can be awkward.
For advice on where and how to submit, check out this piece on Electric Literature.
6. Don't get mad if they aren't able to fix a problem ASAP.
It's good for both editors and publishers to have boundaries, especially if it's on the weekend/past 5 p.m. Self-care is a thing. So, for instance, if they didn't send that galley right when you wanted them to, or respond to a query, give them a few days.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (2016, ELJ Publications), & Xenos (2016, Agape Editions). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM. Some of their writing has appeared in Prelude, The Atlas Review, The Feminist Wire, BUST, Pouch, and elsewhere. They also teach workshops at Brooklyn Poets.