Cap courtesy of Michael Kelly
I wish I could say I was surprised to see a screencap making the rounds of Twisted Dreams editor Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc lambasting a writer for asking what her pay rates were. Instead, I thought, “Huh. So my instinct was right.”
I submitted a story to Twisted Dreams Magazine in 2006. For those of you pointing out the garish web design and poor copy, it could be worse. Its only presence could still be a badly managed Myspace page. After Andrea offered what was meant to be helpful criticism (she didn’t understand that the ambiguity was intentional and suggested I explain, in detail, where the bloody body parts had come from), I tweaked it, resubmitted, and it went on to appear in the spring issue that April. I was stoked at the time. I was still naive enough to think that exposure was reward enough and that having to buy my own copy (my mother was so proud) was a sort of career investment. The red flags didn’t become clear until years later, and I kept waiting for someone else to bite the bullet and point them out so I could feel better about thumping the cover whenever I pass the magazine rack beside my desk. Yes, I do that. No, I don’t know why I haven’t just tucked it away in the back. It’s the emo in me, all right?
I won’t comment on Andrea’s “best selling” books or her role as a “trail blazer” in the field. But it’s pretty damn obvious that as an editor/publisher, she has a lot to learn. Or would have if she hadn’t dug her own grave.
It’s not just that her guidelines are ridiculous. It’s not just that she offers zero compensation. It’s not just that the website is an utter mess. It’s everything, and her attitude toward potential authors is particularly off-putting. It reeks of “I’ve been in this business longer than you” and “look how edgy I can be!” For the record, Andrea was sweet as pie to me. I never felt intimidated or talked down to. Why the change? If you’re exasperated enough with what you deem unacceptable submissions to actually chastise your audience, then maybe it’s time to pack up your toys and go home. Is there anything wrong with writing for no pay, or offering only exposure for printing it? Of course not, within reason. But show some fucking appreciation for your writers. Bullying them will get you nowhere.
You can read my story “Dinner for Two,” which appeared in Twisted Dreams’s April 2006 issue, here.
ETA: While writing this post, I had Andrew Wolter’s open letter to the editor in another tab. It seems Andrea had something to say about it. I can’t not share her response, now can I?
ETA FEB 1st: Looks like someone slept on it and decided to heed Andrew’s advice, but not without a healthy dose of condescension.