Saturday, March 09, 2013

Switching Hats

Hats are one of the wardrobe essentials of strange characters like me. Whether it is the top hat that I don to hang out with my gangster gal or that Greek fisherman's cap I use to keep the Florida sun from baking my tiny brain, hats bring little personality changes that give me a lift.

About now you are probably wondering if I am going to post tons of photos of me in various hats. Well...No. I'm just using these hat photos to show that at different times and for different reasons, I decide on a change of hats. In the figurative sense, switching between author and publisher is the same kind of hat trick.

When I write short fiction, the story is usually written with a specific publication in mind. In the best cases the story was requested by a publisher who knows me and wants me to write a story for their publication. More often, the story goes to someone who hasn't heard of me and I am judged by how well I fit their needs and the quality of my story. One of three things happens with cold submissions. The editor loves the story and sends me an acceptance email. Sometimes, the story is short listed, and I have to wait to find out if I make the final cut. The final possibility is rejection. My author's ego gets bruised by editors who reject my work.

Like most authors, I find rejection difficult. It is hard to remember that the editor isn't singling me out. Intellectually, I know it isn't personal. Emotionally, it hurts. Rejection will always hurt because my stories are personal. They are part of me.

Now that Sarah and I have started a publishing house, rejections are part of the job.We are the ones putting out calls for submissions. That publisher's hat is an uncomfortable fit. I have to look at the work writers send, work they have tailored to my request, and poured their talent into creating. I must say "no" to many writers and send acceptance emails to the precious few who make the cut.

Maybe, in time, this new hat will have a more comfortable fit. I hope not. I don't ever want to feel entirely comfortable with rejecting work that I know is created through the sweat and dreams of an author. Even if the work submitted isn't ready for print, the words on the page are much more than words. Stories are part of who we are and what we know. Stories are the human experience. The best ones take us beyond the story and into the world created by the author's imagination.

How do I find a good hat for that?

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