The Book of Daria

This is the story that was supposed to have been published by Lakeside Circus in Year Two, Issue 1. On 18 March, 2015 to be precise. It was in the Table of Contents until yesterday. It was accepted by the editor Carrie Cuinn in June 2014. I am publishing it here on my website because the editor has pulled it from the issue. And I believe it deserves to see the light of day and be read.

The original acceptance letter from the editor had mentioned the possible need for editing the story, and I had replied right away, saying, yes of course. I am always open to editing. I love getting feedback on how to improve my story, especially from editors who read thousands of stories and know what they’re talking about. I’ve had editorial suggestions (that I gratefully accepted) from many of the editors who have published my stories.

However, this is the first time I’ve had a truly awful experience, and I feel I should report it in the interests of transparency and for the benefit of others who wish to submit their stories to Lakeside Circus. So here’s my troubling timeline:

June 2014: Conditional acceptance email received from editor. Submittable shows the lovely green of “accepted” so I go ahead and log this story as an acceptance in the Submission Grinder. I ask what edits I should make, but get absolutely no response.

Jan 2015: I query the editor on publication date. Later than month I am asked for contributor info, which I promptly provide, and which is posted online.

Feb 2015: Official TOC posted. The Book of Daria, I am happy to see, is scheduled for 18 March, 2015.

27 April 2015: I query the editor, because sadly the story is still not live, while other stories scheduled for later in the month are already published.

4 May 2015: The editor sends a massive rewrite request, which dismays me, because it indicates quite clearly she did not ‘get’ the story.

I try. I try hard to work with her notes. I make two different versions of the story. How does it read now, I ask.

7 May 2015: The editor pulls the story from the issue. “Good luck placing it elsewhere,” she says.

I am, quite frankly, upset. I did not expect such deeply unprofessional conduct. Because that’s what it is. Once you accept a story, you work with the writer to get it where you want. We see so many articles and blog posts about how aspiring professional writers should behave. But I want to point out that no matter how professional and polite we writers are, we have the right to expect the same from the editors we work with.

There are some truly lovely stories on the Lakeside Circus website. Some of those writers, I’ve heard, have not been paid for their work. Please read the stories on Lakeside Circus, and follow those writers’ work if you enjoy it. Before you submit your own precious work to this market, however, take heed. I’m not the only one who’s had issues – if I were, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

13 May Update: Editor has written claiming: “All contributors for last year’s issues have been paid, and can absolutely email me if there’s been any mistake. I’ll fix it at once. For the current issue, we’re still within our connected time period to pay, though many of those authors have been paid.”

So folks, if you haven’t been paid, or there’s some issue with your contract, write to said editor. All the best!

About Rati Mehrotra

Science fiction and fantasy writer. I blog at: ratiwrites.com Thanks for dropping by!
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12 Responses to The Book of Daria

  1. bean-writer says:

    Rati,

    That story was lovely. I’m amazed at what you can do–how poignant a story can be–in such a short space.

    And I am so, so sorry about your experience with Lakeside Circus. And I am also one of those writers who was never paid for her publication there.

    • Thank you, both for the comment on my story, and for reporting your own experience. I just don’t want this to happen to other writers!

  2. Hi Rati, that’s not a great experience you had there, my sympathies. Now I’m going to pile on by giving you public feedback, just like you invited! Anyone else coming here to comment should know I’m about to SPOILER.

    Actually, I liked the story, so thanks for putting it out there for us to read. However, had I been in that editor’s shoes, I’d have raised a few points (not mentioning that I wouldn’t have done the rest of what you described…). This is all a *little* academic, but what the hell!

    First, hindsight suggests that the early beat of Avery blowing raspberries in class is a bit of a cheat; it’s obviously inappropriate, so it goes towards Avery-as-a-ghost-unseen – fine. When I look back though, I don’t really buy that (…)

    • Thanks so much Andrew, for reading the story and for your comments. I’ve truncated your feedback (forgive me!) because my intent at this point is not to rewrite or edit “The Book of Daria”. I cannot. It is, in a very real sense, gone from me. My intent is to use my experience to inform other writers about this market.

      A story is a matter of personal taste. Some things are fixable (actually, much of what you have pointed out!), and some are not. I was very willing to work on it, even though the rewrite request I got was 6 weeks AFTER the story should have been online. It was in the official TOC of the magazine. I am, needless to say, never submitting to this editor again.

  3. Widdershins says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. There are many good publishers out there, but the bad ones need to be named as well.

  4. Read your posting immediately after signing, scanning, and sending a contract to Carrie at Lakeside Circus. My story is a mere 500 words or so, accepted unconditionally, garnering a life-changing $14, so I’m happy to take the risk for another semi-pro credit. Curious to see whether the cash ever arrives in my PayPal account, though.

    As regards your story, I enjoyed the tone, and the quality of the writing was as good as I see in anthologies, but not sure it wholly worked for me. I found the ‘living, functional’ flag towards the beginning a bit clunky, and saw the ghost angle very (too) early – but thought both girls were ghosts rather than just Daria. I think that’s part of what Andrew’s getting at: Avery’s actions as a ghost make sense, Daria’s less so.

  5. sbaker says:

    Hi Rati,

    Thanks for sharing the story and the story-behind-sharing-the-story.

    That’s a pretty lousy way for a market to act. If the editor didn’t want to buy the story as written, she could have sent a rewrite request, not a “conditional acceptance with edits,” which is vague enough that it could mean anything.

    I have a poem in issue 2, but don’t think I’ll be submitting again. There are plenty of other markets out there.

  6. Hi Stewart, and thanks for writing. Night Shift is a lovely poem. And I learned one word I hadn’t heard of before! 🙂

  7. Sent by Robert Bagnall, added manually by me as this post is closed for comments now: “I wanted to leave an additional response to your posting last May regarding Lakeside Circus. Anyway, if you want to see how my Lakeside Circus experience turned out see http://meschera.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/meditations-on-editorial-correspondence.html

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