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JV
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 01:44 pm:   

What do people think about it? An editor publishing one of their stories in something they edit?

There's a storm brewin' here about it in one context?

http://www.midnightersclub.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=15

And this year, I've seen two anthos do it--that Flights anthology, edited by Al Sarrantino, in which it was really irritating.

And in the Crossroads anthology, edited by F. Brett Cox and Andy Duncan, there are two Andy Duncan stories and one by F. Brett Cox, which seems to me to take it to extremes. In fact, it really devalued the antho for me and I wound up not even reviewing it as a result. Despite the fact I have a lot of respect for them as writers.

In the fake disease guide, I've got lots of stuff I wrote--mostly linkage material--because it was a kind of shared world deal. In that case, I think it's still perhaps questionable, but somebody in charge of the project, with access to all of the text written by contributors, had to write some of that material, although we out-sourced some of it, too. However, I perhaps balanced this out by withdrawing a story from consideration for Leviathan 4 that Forrest wanted to buy, so perhaps I'm at least batting .500 in this department.

I'm just curious what people think of this. To me, in a general anthology, or a magazine, as opposed to something more collaborative like a shared world antho, it would seem to be a clear conflict of interest to publish my own or a co-editor's work.

Am I being hypocritical by making any distinction? Or, on the other hand, is it not a big deal at all?

Having seen more and more of it, I thought it worthy of discussion.


JeffV
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JV
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 01:57 pm:   

And this thread:

http://p082.ezboard.com/fshocklinesforumfrm2.showMessageRange?topicID=12069.topi c&start=1&stop=20

JeffV
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Simon Owens
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 03:04 pm:   

I don't really take a market seriously if it publishes its own editor, unless of course the editor happened to be already an established author. For instance, Robert Silverberg published himself in several of the anthos he's edited, but I doubt that many people questioned him on this.

In your case, I probably wouldn't really mind because you've already established yourself within the genre.
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JV
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 03:42 pm:   

Well, I can't think of a situation where I would ever again. Maybe it's a non-issue. I'm not sure being established is a valid excuse.



Jeff
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 04:27 pm:   

It depends. If someone is well-known for a certain sort of story, and publishes an anthology with that theme, I'd like to see a story by them.

In a periodical though? As constantly as Schweitzer does it? No. Round my house we even refer to the magazine he edits as The Darrell Schweitzer Anthology of American Literature.
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Kathy S.
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 04:42 pm:   

I can't say it bothers me all that much. If it's a single story in an antho -- sure, why not? More than one, however, irritates me a bit. Also, depends on a story. If it's the weakest one in the collection and the editor has no other publications then I just can't take this person seriously.
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 05:18 pm:   

Hey Jeff -

I'll start by saying that interstitial material, like the stuff you mention for the disease guide, is pretty much part of the game. Someone has to write it for the anthology to have structure, and to be honest, I'd assume the editor(s) had. It's appropriate.

However, when it comes to adding a story to a book - just say no. It always looks bad, especially if the story's not too strong. There are degrees though. Reprinting a story in an anthology is marginally less awful than publishing an original. I know Jack Dann edited the Nebula Awards anthology the year he'd won the Award. He kinda had to put his story in. When it comes to original anthologies though - just never ever ever. It looks bad. It sounds bad. It's tacky. It makes it look as though either the book was so marginal the editor had to add a story because the editor's a big name, or that the editor couldn't place the story elsewhere.

J
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chance
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 06:07 pm:   

I don't mind it. If a name editor publishing one of his/her stories is what it takes to get the anthology published chock full of good fiction, then I am happier to have the book. Particularly happier if it is a good story.

Over in the Ellen's topic she had been talking about the forthcoming SCI FICTION anthology and how she would rather it be called something like "A Selection From ..." rather than "Best of ...", but "Best of" is part of what it takes to get the book published.

In my mind both are minor accommodations to practicality. In the Weird Tales example I don't see that imperative. Nor would I likely see it in a small press anthology edited by a less known editor. I think it is generally wiser for an editor esablishing him/herself to shy away from such practices.

But sometimes, if you are ballsy and you have the goods, it pays off.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 11:42 pm:   

Lin Carter did it all the time!

So...uh...no. It's embarrassing. I consider the interstitial stuff to constitute editorial content which you, as editor, were free to provide. I like reading intros and afterwards and Ellisonian anecdotes. But for straightforward collections? Ugh. It's just a gut reaction. Even for theme collections. I wouldn't put it past certain writer/editors to come up with a theme collection just so they can preserve one of their own personal favorites and legitimize the whole endeavor by surrounding it with stories by other writers. I don't know if you're aware of this but (lowers voice) there are some real egos out there.

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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 12:13 am:   

I think if it is something like The Guide, it is ok, because it is not a normal antho. and you created Lambshead, and had to build up the world yourself. If it is a regular antho however, it smacks of the self-serving, of the egocentric, and should be avoided.

Personally, I can barely pick up an antho if I see the editor included one of their own stories, poems or what have you.
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 12:30 am:   

There is usually no reason or justification for an editor to include (or allow to be included if more than one editor) their own story in any publication that they edit or are involved with. This has always been a strong view of mine since year dot. (Having said that, I did forgive Robert Aickman for his volumes of the Fontana Ghost Stories! But nobody else.)

Of course, I keep sending myself anonymous submissions, in hope! ;-)

des

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George H Scithers
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 06:28 am:   

All this shades off into self-publication, which has an often undeserved bad name. I wrote and published TO SERVE MAN: A COOKBOOK FOR PEOPLE, which was fun to write and a modest success -- Wildside Press has even brought out a trade paperback of it. I also published a book on the history of Radnor Township, subsidized by the author, which actually made a modest profit, while genealogies almost never do, and a book about Francis Gose, a British writer in the 1700s, again subsidized by its author, and which launched the author on a literary career.
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 07:00 am:   

Self-publication can be justifiable, I feel. It's a choice one makes. I published the story collaborations I did with my father in a book. It was a sort of present to him. A discrete artefact that stands or falls as such.

However, editing a magazine or anthology of multi-authored short fiction is I feel a different ball game. Putting a story by oneself in that can never be done as an objective act. It also deprives other writers of a chance to earn that space in the publication.

And this leads me on to ... No, don't get me on to the subject of only considering anonymous submissions! ;-)
des
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 07:45 am:   

It's a very old practice, and it's only been considered ethically suspect since about the second decade of the 20th century.

Speaking only for myself, if I buy an antho edited by someone whose writing I respect, then I'd like to see some of that person's original prose in the antho. I don't see that as being a problem at all, ethically, unless we somehow assume that someone else was entitled to those pages. I make no such assumption, so I'm okay with editors appearing in their own publications, periodical or otherwise--if they can write well, of course; if what they've got to contribute adds value to the volume. (In a refereed journal that takes blind submissions, it's another matter--the ethics there are very different)
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 07:56 am:   

As for similarities between publishing oneself in an antho and self-publishing, I think there are differences which could be minor (if the editor/author foots the bill for the antho) or stark (if the book contract came from someone else who is providing the capital). That would have to be worked out between the editor and the person paying the bills (and assuming the risks).

Self-publication (which, in America, is at least as old as Washington Irving's Sketch Book, forces the writer to assume the financial risk. And yes, self-publication does get a bad rap which is usually (but certainly not always) justified.

It's important, I think, to make some kind of distinction between scam vanity presses and authentic self-publication. I'm not sure exactly where I would draw that line, except to employ a rule of thumb: if they come to me and offer to publish me for a fee, then it's probably a scam, and I'm a fool for taking the bait.
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 08:15 am:   

Neal says: so I'm okay with editors appearing in their own publications, periodical or otherwise--if they can write well,
**********

"If they can write well" - does the editor decide this or do the readers when it is too late (i.e. if they don't write well)?
des
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 09:45 am:   

I think self publication is fine.

Editing anthologies is different though.

I would have no problem self publishing one of my books, for aesthetic reasons or otherwise.

Putting one's own work in an anthology though means that one is using one's editorial position to try and pump themselves, possibly at the expense of more talented writers.
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 09:46 am:   

Exactly, Brendan.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 09:51 am:   

Every writer who submits stories for publication thinks their stories are worthy of publication.
98% of the world submit stories for publication (or so it seems!).
An editor of an anthology who is also a writer is one such writer.
des
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JV
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 11:46 am:   

Self-publication is very different. I think Joel Lane might have self-published his first collection. For first books I think it's okay, especially for collection where an author has published several stories in good magazines previously. And, when established, self-publication for non-commercial projects is perfectly acceptable.

What I find interesting is indie bands produce and package their own music all the time, under all kinds of circumstances, but this is frowned upon in literature, for the most part, except under certain conditions.

JeffV
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 12:15 pm:   

Jeff, I'm pretty sure Joel's first short story collection was published by Nick Royle's Egerton Press. Des
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George H Scithers
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 02:49 pm:   

In my days as editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, I once calculated that about one percent of our readers (assuming one reader per copy sold or subscribed to) submitted stories, and about one percent of the stories were good enough to buy.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 04:35 pm:   

Michael Moorcock ran his stories in New Worlds.

Harlan Ellison included a story of his own in Dangerous Visions.

Michael Chabon included one of his stories in Thrilling Tales.

Seems to me that there are enough examples that it's really just a matter of individual preference. I wouldn't do it. But I don't see any point in raising a stink if someone else chooses to.
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des
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 12:28 am:   

George says: I once calculated that about one percent of our readers (assuming one reader per copy sold or subscribed to) submitted stories,
**********

This has changed, I feel, with the arrival of the internet and ease of communication and the widespread notion (through various factors such as own websites and forums etc.) of seemingly reachable ambitions of being a published professional writer etc.
Everyone I know at my work office in the far reaches of Essex, UK seems to harbour such an ambition! Or to be a pop star (through such reality shows as Big Brother etc). And this is systemic worldwide, I guess.

Since the eighties, I've always called myself a hobbyist, not a writer. I never *expect* to be accepted, never disappointed when I'm not (and this happens all the time!). ;-0
des
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CA McGee
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 12:50 am:   

I understand why people feel that it's unethical, but I don't think it's something that can be universally applied. Part of the editor's job is being responsible for creating something of value to buyers/readers and if adding his or her own name to the TOC is going to do that, then that's a compelling argument to at least consider it, assuming the story being added fits with the collection--if it were done in a "best of" rather than a thematic anthology, that would likely give me pause. All of these scenarios, though, eventually reduce to a decision on the part of the editor, not a steadfast rule of conduct.

I suspect that the average reader, having probably little insight into what the editor of an anthology does and probably not caring much about it, isn't going to feel cheated if the editor's name (which has, in many cases, encouraged them to purchase the book) appears as a byline on one of the stories. In nonfiction compilations, it's not uncommon for editors to include their own essays/reportage.

In the case of Crossroads, I read several reviews of the book, and only one mentioned as unusual the fact that editors had included stories of their own. I didn't bother me at all, though I liked Duncan's story considerably more than Lott's. (However, the edition I have only included one story by each editor, and I might have felt differently if there had been more.)
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CA McGee
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 12:59 am:   

George says: I once calculated that about one percent of our readers (assuming one reader per copy sold or subscribed to) submitted stories,
**********

This has changed, I feel, with the arrival of the internet and ease of communication and the widespread notion (through various factors such as own websites and forums etc.) of seemingly reachable ambitions of being a published professional writer etc.


Has anyone seen any projections along these lines? Hanging out in SF forums, one can certainly get the impression that nearly everyone is trying to become a writer, but it seems mostly colloquial. I'm not convinced that what we see on the internet is representative sample, but maybe I'm underestimating; the 40,000 people currently participating in the National Novel Writing Month does lend credence to high numbers.
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Neddal
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 08:33 am:   

Re: Indie/DIY musicians vs. self-publishing

I mean it's not like the bug publishing houses are any less closed than the major labels. Within the punk/diy scene self-publication is encouraged all you have to do is check out the 'zine section of mags like Broken Pencil, Punk Planet, or maximumrocknroll - of course, quality is another issue, but some good stuff has come out of the 'zine scene - doesn't Nick Mamatas have a 'zine background? There's Rollins' book company, which he founded to publish his own stuff and went on to publish the first (I think) N. American edition of Cave's novel, along with stuff by Hubert Selby, Michael Gira, Henry Miller, etc... I get the feeling that Lady Churchill's... is coming from a 'zine background too. There are also places like Charnel - http://www.charnel.com (I encourage everyone to check out Morbid Curiosity. An excellent mag.)

I guess it has to come down to the individuals involved. Some people can pull it off, some people can't. As to why...all is subjective...a confluence of taste, talent, drive, etc...
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Neddal
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 08:35 am:   

Argh. Please imagine the previous post minus the spelling, errors in punctuation, and run-on sentences. I was thinking faster than I was typing.
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John Klima
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 12:44 pm:   

I don't even like publishing my own reviews. To me it looks like one of a few things: you couldn't find enough stuff so you have to pad the publication with your own stuff, no one else will publish you so you publish yourself, or no one will dare say no to you (Ellison, Moorcock, etc) that you get included in the publication. I don't think it's right, and it lessens the value for me.

JK
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 06:34 pm:   

What I find interesting is indie bands produce and package their own music all the time, under all kinds of circumstances, but this is frowned upon in literature, for the most part, except under certain conditions.

Sure, but indie bands still pay for mixing and mastering, which are analogous to the editorial process. If indie bands were made up of people who couldn't even tune their instuments and who recorded by improvising songs while crowded around a tape recorder, then it would be frowned upon too.

Generally everyone learns how to write in the third grade, and lots of people use those third grade skills to generate novels, then publish them. Tuning a guitar, focusing a lens on an Arriflex, and other skills involved in music and film are more advanced. If you sit in front of a piano and just start riffing, you'll likely sound horrible and you'll certainly know it. Thus, you don't have all that many horrid efforts making it on to CD. Not so with writing.

And of course, there are tons of independently produced CDs and motion pictures that go no further than the artist's closet because distribution is still key.
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Jonathan
Posted on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 09:03 pm:   

One thing to remember about the likes of Moorcock, Ellison, Chabon and Silverberg publishing themselves in their anthologies. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes publishers make the sale of an anthology dependent on the big name editor including a story. I'm not saying it's necessarily the case in these specific instances, but I know it's happened. It's still a bad idea - it's always a bad idea - but it's not necessarily always the editor's fault.
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Neddal
Posted on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 04:58 am:   

If indie bands were made up of people who couldn't even tune their instuments and who recorded by improvising songs while crowded around a tape recorder, then it would be frowned upon too.
You obviously haven't heard some of the stuff in my review pile. ;)
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Lou Anders
Posted on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 02:41 pm:   

Yeah, not to really be argumentative, but I have always believed that Husker Du and the Lemonheads were both ruined by learning how to play their instruments & sing. Dinosaur Jr. to a degree too.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 06:36 pm:   

Judging from the examples here and from my own limited experience, it seems like publishing a story in something you edit may be an older practice that has fallen out of style -- some people, many of them older, still do it while others don't.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 07:12 am:   

Des: "If they can write well" - does the editor decide this or do the readers when it is too late (i.e. if they don't write well)?"

I don't understand your question, Des. How would the cases be different with or without an editor including his or her own work? In either case, you have an editor making a decision to include material which will finally be judged by the readers.

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J. Erik Lundberg
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 09:21 am:   

My $0.02: I have absolutely no problem with self-publishing, as long as that's not the only thing you do. My first book (with Janet Chui) was a chapbook of our short stories, and we designed it and footed the bill, and, remarkably, have nearly sold out. But there is a level of quality there (not so much in the writing as in the presentation) that people respond to. I'm also a big fan of zines, but unfortunately, some of them are so cheaply produced that it's hard to get people to buy them. So self-publishing at the beginning of your career is fine in my book, as long as you move out into the professional world.

Re: Crossroads -- Andy Duncan told me that he and Brett Cox didn't want to put their own stories in the antho, that they considered it kinda cheesy, but that Invisible Cities Press (who originally commissioned the antho) really wanted stories by both of them in there. Then Invisible Cities dropped the antho so they could focus on publishing cookbooks, and the book languished in limbo until Tor decided to pick it up. I'm guessing at that point that Tor also felt that having the stories by the editors in there would be a good idea. I haven't talked to Andy or Brett since the book was published, so I'm not sure what they feel about it now, but I know they were against the idea at the start.

I toyed with the idea of writing a brief something for Scattered, Covered, Smothered, maybe just a flash piece, but only if I didn't receive quite enough fiction to fill it out. As it turns out, we got a huge number of submissions, and the ones I accepted are all very high quality, and if I had added a story at that point, it would have only been to massage my own ego. I'm probably not even going to write an introduction, since the premise is fairly evident, and the stories can speak for themselves.

The interstitial and background stuff you, Jeff, did on the Lambshead guide works in a different way, as has been expressed above, in that it ties all the material together. Plus, that book is an animal unto itself. And things like reviews in Electric Velocipede or editorial snippets in Lady Churchill's or automatic writing in Flytrap are different, mostly because these examples are zines that are published on an ongoing basis, and it's a way for the editor to add to their own zine. I'm no sure why having an editor's voice in a zine doesn't bother me, when it does for an anthology.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 09:30 am:   

Neal says: Des: "If they can write well" - does the editor decide this or do the readers when it is too late (i.e. if they don't write well)?"

I don't understand your question, Des.
************

My point is that the editor is deciding whether his or her own writing is written well. It's too late to decide whether the editor *really* writes well as decided by the readers once they read it and realise it's not written well. It's already published!

Incidentally, I have no problem with self-publishing, which is quite different from publishing one's own story in a multi-authored anthology that one edits.
des
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ben payne
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 03:39 pm:   

I kind of feel like it's nor morally evil or anything... but as a reader my first reaction is always to suspect the quality of it... in that way I think a story published by the writer has to be a little better than everything else in the magazine, otherwise it does seem like it's kinda dodgy...

myself, i'd never publish my own stories... i mean, there are plenty of other places to send them, after all.

And Lou: I didn't know there was anyone in the world who preferred the early punk rock Lemonheads to their later stuff!

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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 03:52 pm:   

Des: "It's too late to decide whether the editor *really* writes well as decided by the readers once they read it and realise it's not written well. It's already published!"

As is the case when Gordon Van Gelder publishes John Varley, or when Ellen Datlow publishes Howard Waldrop. It flies, or it flops. Period. Again, what's the difference? The editor makes a choice, and it works or it doesn't. In both cases.

Honestly, I think some people are sacralizing the daylights out of this. If enough readers get sick of the Mr. Editor Ego Extravaganza in the pages of a magazine, then they'll quit buying it. But there's nothing inherently unethical about publishing your own stuff in your mag, so far as I can see. Some may find it distasteful, but then, hey, that's how I feel about drawstring pants, but I wouldn't badmouth someone who wore them.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 07:14 pm:   


Ben,
Lick was the last good album as far as I'm concerned. Once Evan Dando chased out the other vocalists and took over the band, it turned into late-era Replacements crap.

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des
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 11:49 pm:   

Neal says;
Des: "It's too late to decide whether the editor *really* writes well as decided by the readers once they read it and realise it's not written well. It's already published!"

As is the case when Gordon Van Gelder publishes John Varley, or when Ellen Datlow publishes Howard Waldrop. It flies, or it flops. Period. Again, what's the difference? The editor makes a choice, and it works or it doesn't. In both cases.
**************

Yes, yes, of course, but this is a rather special discussion: should editors publish their own stories in an anthology? If my point above isn't self-evident or, at least, central as the debateable concept, then there is no point in discussing the subject at all, logically.

As a diversion, your examples above, Neal, demonstrate some neutral editorial force that has considered the stories *before* it gets to the readers.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 08:23 am:   

Having just re-read my post above, I apologise for its tone. It didn't sound like that when I first said it!

des
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 08:00 pm:   

Re this:

"Re: Crossroads -- Andy Duncan told me that he and Brett Cox didn't want to put their own stories in the antho, that they considered it kinda cheesy, but that Invisible Cities Press (who originally commissioned the antho) really wanted stories by both of them in there."

That, to my mind, is b.s. At that point, you find the backbone and integrity to resist the temptation to go along with that.

JeffV
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JV
Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 12:06 pm:   

That said, Andy Duncan is an amazing writer who works in a Southern idiom most of the time. So there is a dilemma.

But more importantly--happy thanksgiving. Mmmm. Turkey.

Jeff VanderTurkey
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Andrew Hook
Posted on Saturday, November 27, 2004 - 11:50 am:   

I self-published my first collection of stories when I began Elastic Press, but 17 of those 19 stories had been previously published in good magazines (Third Alternative etc); plus I was testing the publishing water in general which (ten books down the line) seems to have paid off. The fact that the collection was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Award also gives that decision some retrospective credence I think. Then I also included one of my stories in The Alsiso Project, but again the intention of that book was to showcase those authors Elastic had published which included me. It was also a specifically and unusually themed anthology which had to have new material written for it, so again I think that decision was justified.

Having said the above, I guess anyone who's self-published will always find the reason to justify it! I wouldn't continue to do so though.

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