Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 22, 2012 - 4:42pm

I have received some interest from an online publication for a short story I submitted.  They want to cut about 2600 out of my 3300 word length, then have me re-submit as flash fiction.

Needless to say I'm torn.  I would like the exposure at this point--it's my second completed short story, and my first was just published, so I'd love to bat 1.000--but the 700 or so words that are left are really just the climax.

No disrespect to the editor--I appreciate the consideration, and they clearly know their stuff.  But I feel like it wouldn't be all that satisfying to see just one-fifth of my work out there for all to see, leaving out so much context that the spirit of the story is lost (maybe a pretentious statement given that the story is about an Asian prostitute).

Also note I've only submitted this piece to two places thus far. I'm not expecting a response from the second anytime soon.

Thoughts?
 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner February 22, 2012 - 4:44pm

Why did they say they wanted ot cut that much?

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 22, 2012 - 4:51pm

... said the rest didn't work, etc.  Usual stuff.  They also don't like the title.  

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. February 22, 2012 - 4:51pm

Hmm. Unless the editor gave me some detailed feedback on exactly why and what he was going for then I think that might be a bit much for me.

But I might be open to suggestion if what they were asking seemed to make sense.

Tough one. It would depend on a lot of things. How much do you value a credit from this publication? Do you feel the part of the story they want to go with works standing alone? Could it not exist in two forms, a flash and a short story?

Lots of variables.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner February 22, 2012 - 4:53pm

I would say go for it IF you keep ownership. Then later you can publish the full version. I mean this is a tough call though....if you don't own it once it's published....I would just ask yourself if it is worth it? If it is, do it. 

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 22, 2012 - 4:53pm

Yeah - I often have to cut 80% of my own work....

For some reason I think of Metallica's ...And Justice For All. (yeah, I'm switching it up - or going tangental?).

Someone in the band said that they'd jammed so many time-changes, extended bridges, long solos, etc. into the one album, they actually regretted it later and thought that the album & its songs would have been better if the songs were simplified and streamlined - and they would have gained two great albums from that one good album ("Shortest Straw"; "Harvester Of Sorrorw; and "One" are three exceptions & are perfect as-is).

So, by chopping the set-up or backstory and choosing to publish your climatic last fifth of your story, they are validating part of your writing....moreso than denigrating the other 4/5 of your story.

And, they free you to use the other 4/5 elsewhere, or in other stories...

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner February 22, 2012 - 4:56pm

And, they free you to use the other 4/5 elsewhere, or in other stories..."

 

Good point, I have recycled lines on occasion from stories I did nothing with. 

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break February 22, 2012 - 5:03pm

If there are two reasons you should consider making a change this drastic (and yes, cutting that much is pretty fucking drastic), it comes down to money and the strength of the credential.

Is it Electric Literature or Word Riot or something like that, or is it some shit that hardly anyone has heard of?  Are they going to fork over some cash, and is the amount worth the compromise?

If the answer is no, then fuck it.  Move on.  Online publications are a dime a dozen, and ultimately, it's your name attached to the story.  Don't think that just because some editor gives you a whiff of publication that you have to flip over and let your work take it in the ass.   

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 22, 2012 - 5:08pm

@ Boone I like your example... One is one my favorite songs/videos ever.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 22, 2012 - 5:18pm

i agree with brandon. if it's professional pay or a TOP site, yeah, cut it. otherwise, tell them to fuck off. nicely, of course. can you tell us where this is? or hint? or just PM me :-)

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 22, 2012 - 5:19pm

Yeah, and in the One video they cut down Johnny Get Your Gun to its essential 2% of film - love that video...

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 22, 2012 - 5:32pm

Thanks for the input, everyone.   Acting on sage advice from some old pros I'm going to accept the cut and see if it gets accepted. 

Alex Kane's picture
Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Dark Orbit February 22, 2012 - 11:30pm

Definitely what Brandon said. If they're paying at least 5 cents a word, or are a major, prestigious publication, hell yes. If they're not, fuggeddaboudit. There are other markets. 80% isn't exactly a minor task, so it had better be worth your while. In my opinion, for flash fiction, they'd better be paying 5 cents a word or it probably isn't worth your while. Don't settle -- it's your work, so be proud of it.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 22, 2012 - 11:43pm

I can't imagine who in their right mind would ask you to cut that much instead of just passing on it. Brandon and Richard know what the deal is. I would say even if it is pro pay, I wouldn't trust that kind of editorial intrusion unless it was a high high profile market that I've been dying to get into. But I imagine you'd do okay, them probably wanting first electronic rights and you can still shop around the complete version after that. Strange request, but at least you're getting some love with your submissions. I'd be interested to know what place this is...

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 23, 2012 - 7:22am

^hey, you can always write more, right?

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 24, 2012 - 6:19pm

Thanks again everyone. If it gets published I will let y'all know.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks February 25, 2012 - 10:50am

A zine just wrote me back saying the loved my story but wanted a different ending. Its a tough call... but I'll probably see if I can change it to suit their needs. Its a zombie story and they basically said that the ending was too predictable. And as tough as it is to admit, I agree with them. So sometimes a publisher can push you to make something better. Obviously if I felt strongly enough about what I wrote, I'd just say no and try to shop it around somewhere else, but since I sort of feel the same way, I'm willing to make those kinds of changes.

 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs February 25, 2012 - 10:54am

I would change it if the editor's suggestions improved the story. Otherwise, no.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 25, 2012 - 11:21am

^what bradley said.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks February 25, 2012 - 11:45am

I think it'll make the story better, but who knows? I'll let everyone know if it gets sold or not and whether or not I feel like a whore for changing it.

Dr. Guillotine's picture
Dr. Guillotine from Phoenix, AZ is reading Kurt Vonnegut Slaughter House-Five February 25, 2012 - 4:44pm

Well, if anything, it's a collaboration.

 

I'd do it.  Just tell them to pay me in booze.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 25, 2012 - 5:24pm

that might work. I wish Jameson's would sponsor me. I hope they got my letters.