If you stay in the publishing business long enough, go to enough conventions, spend enough time on Facebook/message boards/Twitter, you will make your share of industry friends.  These will be people you may find yourself submitting stories to or having them submit stories to you.  It’s not easy rejecting friends.

Case in point, a few years ago, I subbed a story to an anthology that a couple of friends of mine were doing.  I got rejected from it, though my rejection did have a personal note in it.  Critique notes as to why the story was rejected well as a few words to soften the blow.  Even with friends, it’s important to handle things as a pro.*  It hurts my heart when I hear tales of how friends let business come between them, be it through a rejection, having to say no to something, or some other entanglement due to crossing business and personal lines.

Having now been an editor, for the Dark Faith anthology, I can say that it’s not like editors are rooting against any story.**  They want to put together the best anthology they can.  Sometimes they have to pass on great stories because, for one reason or another, it just won’t fit in with what they are putting together.  And they especially root for their friends.

Well, I took my friend’s advice and re-wrote the story.  It ended up selling in a great market.  And you know what?  When I told my friend, he couldn’t have been happier:  1) because his friend sold a story and 2) because, as an editor, he made a story better and its sale proved that out.

Which brings me back to this past weekend’s ConText.  My friend, Brian Hatcher, had a story that we ended up rejecting from Dark Faith.  One of the last we let go, actually, and in the rejection note, we said as much.  It was a great story.  But, Brian’s a pro and took the news like a pro.  Well, Mr. Hatcher’s story ended up in the great journal The Midnight Diner.  And you know what?  We couldn’t be happier.***

*Okay, I did once have a panel at Mo*Con which featured a bunch of editors who had rejected a story of mine.  And I may or may not have called it “those rat bastards who rejected me”.  A little more foresight might have told me that assembling a panel of people with only rejecting me in common might end badly for me.

**Okay, truth be told, there is a CERTAIN amount of delight one may get from rejecting someone who once rejected you.  You can take that delight, but it only means that much more pain when you end up HAVING to buy a story from an editor who rejected you (… Nick Mamatas says what?  And you know what?  He was also on that rat bastard panel at Mo*Con and helped lead the charge against me!)

***Okay, DOUBLY happy, since The Midnight Diner is edited by another friend of mine, Michelle Pendergrass.