I was trading e-mails the other day with Doug Cohen, assistant editor over at Realms of Fantasy, about preferences for reading submissions on a computer screen vs. printing them out. It’s a very different kind of reading experience, paper vs. electronic, and even though the stories I’m reading (the ones I buy anyway) are going to be published on-line, I still have a major preference for judging them the old fashioned way. I believe I get a better feel for the flow of the story when reading it on paper, and flow is a big thing with me. I want everything about a story – from plot, character, and word choice, to seemingly little things like punctuation – to flow in a way that keeps me lost in the story. Anything that pulls me up and reminds me that I am reading a story is bad. Frankly, that’s why I hate pretentious, writerly writing. It tells me the author thinks he or she is more important than the story they are telling. A lot of people misinterpret me when I say this, thinking I don’t appreciate a fine writing style. Nothing could be further form the truth: I love a great writing style. I also see a tremendous difference between writing that has style, and writing that is about style. It’s the second I have no patience for.
(Now look what you’ve done; you’ve got me up on my soap box, preaching again.) (Get back to the point, Edmund…) (What was the point?) (Right, paper vs. electronic submissions...)
I have to admit that I had not anticipated the time, ink, and paper that would be required for this job. I'm beginning to understand why so many publishers won't accept e-subs: it shifts the burden from the writer to the editor. When you ask 500 writers to each print their own story out, it's not that big a deal. One editor printing out 500 stories is a very different cup of tea. But IGMS’s policy is and will remain: electronic subs. It does have some advantages, such as transferring them and editing them. C'est la vie. You can’t have it all. You really can’t even have most if it; where would you keep it?
Have a good Thanksgiving.