What Reply All Taught Me About Publishing

Reply All: that venomous email ability that you must use in some settings, but absolutely shouldn’t use in others. It also seems that several people always use Reply All, no matter the context.

I have been in several email chains for the anthologies in which my shorts have appeared, and there’s usually at least one chain in which someone loses their minds and does an ill-advisable Reply All. It’s bound to happen when there’s 10+ people per email and several emails out there. However, it’s also an enlightening experience; many people don’t view publishing the way I do. Without someone screwing up, I might never have found the following out.

The Power of BCC

Blind Carbon Copy is amazing.

Shooting out an email to a large number of people, but don’t want those people to annoy each other with Reply Alls? Send it BCC. That way when people inevitably do click reply all, it just goes back to you and perhaps one or two organizers.

The other big time to use BCC is if you don’t have permission to blast another person’s email address out there in the ether. As someone whose real name is very private, I made a “writing email” so that I show up as H.R.R. Gorman no matter what I do. However, if I used my personal email to sign up for something, I wouldn’t want you weirdos finding out the legal name.

Lastly, BCC will prevent embarrassing hiccoughs or instances where someone explodes. Publishers and other authors are trying their best, but sometimes we just fail or disappoint other people. If someone’s trying to be malicious, BCC will protect the innocent sensibilities of those who don’t need to see that.

Anthology Publishers and Editors Have Limited Time

When one publishes in an anthology, usually the publishers do editing – sometimes all of it if editing is their thing. Sometimes they send it off to a professional editor. Either way, you can be certain someone is looking over your work and polishing it up.

Reply All has taught me that many people don’t care about this until it’s too late, or they’ll get back a couple weeks/months late and say “it’s ok.” No matter how hard editors and publishers (and you!) work, books are large and it’s easy for small things to get by us all. It’s good to do your agreed part and take a look at everything. Do your work on time; other people could have used that money the publishers paid you, even if it’s a small amount. You don’t want the black stain of being “unresponsive” or having a typo in your story!

Publishers BOUGHT Your Story – Let Them Have It

You also know there’s two main types of editing: copyediting, which includes proofreading and fixing for grammar or simple language/structure errors, and content editing, which includes changes to story elements. A lot of times I’ve seen submission places online say they will no longer accept short stories that will need content editing because it “takes too much time” or requires changes to the story.

My friends, Reply All taught me what “too much time” means. The reason these people will no longer accept good ideas is probably due to people being overly protective about it and fighting. If you agree to the editing process and sign the contract, abide by the contract. The publisher wants to publish, and holding them back helps neither of you. No story is worth blowing up over.

If you send out a story and an editor wants you to make edits you don’t like, certainly say you don’t like them, but never, never Reply All saying so. Think about how you sold your story, and now it’s up to them to get what they wanted to purchase from you. If the edits make it such that you wouldn’t want it going out into the world, read your contract and see what you agreed to do. Explain what you liked about your story and think the edits took away from it, then suggest a path forward. Construct with your editor, not against them.

What about you?

Have you been on any interesting Reply All chains? Have you learned anything when in anthologies or working with other authors/editors? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

11 thoughts on “What Reply All Taught Me About Publishing

  1. robertawrites235681907 says:

    HI H. I was involved in an anthology that involved complaining, criticism and generally unprofessional behaviour by a number of parties in the group. I upset me a great deal and I resolved then to be very careful about invitations to participate in anthologies. Now I only work with Dan Alatorre and Kaye Lynne Booth who are both professional and lovely to work with.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      That’s a really good idea. The worst offense I’ve seen caused the publisher to switch to using bcc; they originally intended to foster author collaboration, so I guess I understand overestimating people, haha

  2. Priscilla Bettis says:

    I belong to a group that has a variety of ages, from the young mom to the older person whose mind is slowing. Sometimes (often!) the older person hits “reply all.” It’s never been a problem for me, even humorous at times. But in a professional setting (e.g., publisher-authors), that would be terrible.

  3. Miriam Hurdle says:

    I’m always careful when clicking reply to make sure I click what I mean to click, HRR. I use BCC even when I send out stuff so that I have a copy of them in case I don’t get follow up email from the person/place I sent to. Great post! Thanks.

  4. D. Wallace Peach says:

    My problem is usually the opposite, HRR. I “reply” when what I really want is to “reply all.” But I agree with your comments. When I was editing/publishing a couple of anthologies, I used BCC for group emails. Then I’d switch to individual emails when it came to editing. And you’re right about some authors waiting until the last minute or until I hounded them, which I thought was pretty rude. Sigh. Great tips.

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