Monday, February 18, 2013

How I Came to Edit ALL DUE RESPECT: Chris Rhatigan

How I Came to Edit this Site (...and Anthology)

By Chris Rhatigan

Online publications tend to suffer from two problems: 

1) They shut down frequently. (I recently submitted to three publications--all three shut down without responding, one before it even put out its first issue.) 

2) They lack an identity. They publish too many stories, or they publish such a range of material (fiction of all lengths and genres, non-fiction, reviews, crossword puzzles, advertisements for local bands, etc., etc.) that they lose focus.

When Alec Cizak handed me the reins to All Due Respect, I knew it suffered from neither of those problems. It had been around since 2010, building a readership. Once a month, ADR published straight crime fiction short stories--nothing else. 

So I knew the publication itself was sound. I consider this the biggest challenge for editors. My task was to make sure that I kept this up.

What exactly does an editor do? I didn't know the answer to this question when I took over, but I slowly discovered how to approach the job.

The number one thing is only accepting the best submissions that also fit the site's style. This may sound easier than it is. It's difficult rejecting a story that's close, but not quite there. It's difficult sending rejections to friends. It's difficult to provide constructive feedback about why a story doesn't fit the site's needs--which I do unless the story is completely off-base.  

But that initial decision is the most important. I never take it lightly. I almost always read submissions at least twice before accepting them, letting them roll around in my head, seeing if all the pieces fit together. 

Then comes the actual editing. I was a journalist and proofreader for a number of years, so I have no qualms about hacking a story apart at the sentence/word level. (Seeing a blatant error I left in on the site makes me want to punch myself in the face.) 

The difficult part comes when cutting story out. I rarely do this, but I do have pet peeves. Too much back story is a big one. Repeating information that the reader's already picked up on from context is another. Inserting a twist ending where it doesn't fit is also not my thing. Still, I always question this decision--after all, I'm a writer too.

Overall, I love the job. I gain immense satisfaction from sharing a great story with the world and sometimes playing a small part in improving a story. 

And I'm terribly proud of All Due Respect: The Anthology, released by Full Dark City Press. You will love these stories. And if you don't, I'll punch you in the face. 

(Is that benefit that will induce you to buy? I'm not very good at this whole selling thing...)

BIO: Chris Rhatigan is the editor of All Due Respect. His novella, The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other, will be released from KUBOA Press in April. He blogs about short fiction at Death by Killing.


Katherine Tomlinson said...

Chris is right. You WILL love the stories in this anthology. and having been edited by Chris, I can vouch for his editing chops.

Anonymous said...

OK, sounds good. I'll buy it.

Jeff M.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Chris.

Chris - Thanks for sharing the editor's perspective. Such a balance isn't between embracing authors' creativity and doing, well, what editors do to help shape and polish stories. And this anthology looks great!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've done a lot of editing by this time in my life, often even though I didn't want to do it. Never edited a magazine though. I can imagine it would be pretty tough

Third try at the captcha.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm glad Amazon is keeping track because it seems I already bought this one.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Jeff M.

Andrez Bergen said...

Yep, 'tis a great collection — and Chris is the best editor. Punches and all. ;)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have done that several times, Jeff. Life after 60 is hard.