So the Innsmouth Free Press has an author listserv, where one of the things that happens is that Silvia announces when people offer her review copies, and people who want to write a review of whatever-it-is can claim them. “Long Hidden” came up on that list, and I snapped it up, largely because it had been on my wish list anyway and who doesn’t like getting free review copies of things on their wish list?
Then the following sequence of events happened.
1. I read the anthology, and for the most part quite liked it. However, by the time I found myself getting to the actual “write a review” part on my todo list, I was exhausted from Ad Astra and had less to say than I had anticipated. But I did have a deadline, and I knew I’d done this (for Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt’s “Wolves and Witches”) before. I wrote up what I could think of to say anyway, which was about 450 words – quite paltry compared to what usually happens on Autistic book Party – and apologetically sent it in.
2. In response, Silvia sent me a reply consisting solely of the words, “No, thank you.”
I assumed that this meant the review was not up to her standards in some irreparable way and would therefore not be published. I mean, that’s usually what it means when a publisher says that, right?
I was, like any author facing a form rejection for a more-or-less solicited work, rather upset at first, but the more I thought about it the more I understood her point. It wasn’t up to my usual standards as a review. It was barely long enough to meet IFP’s standards. It was condescending, and it gave too much credence to the viewpoints of people who think such anthologies should not be published in the first place. It barely even mentioned the interesting literary qualities of individual stories. Where did I get off talking about it the way that I did, even supportively? What right did I have to make the negative comments that I made (though the review was overall positive) about stories concerning groups that I did not belong to?
When I had stopped freaking out and thought about it for a while, I even felt glad that the review had been rejected. It was no wonder it had been rejected, with so many problems. I was relieved that no one but poor, beleaguered Silvia had had to look at the results of my terrible attempt at reviewing things I didn’t understand.
3. Totally unknown to me at the time, Silvia hadn’t intended to form reject the review. She had made a small filing error of some sort, and sent me the “No, thank you.” email while putting the review into a “to publish” folder. According to what I have now seen from Silvia on Twitter, both of these were mistakes; she had meant to put the review into an “it’s not bad, but ask some clarifying questions first” folder.
4. This, however, pales next to the error that I found out, a few days later, that I’d made. In addition to all the nebulous problems above, I was going back through things I’d read in 2014 so I could put them on the Queer Spec Fic List if applicable, and I realized that, when writing my 1 sentence of critique of how queer issues were presented in “Long Hidden”, I’d completely forgotten about a very good queer story from the anthology that went against the trend I was complaining about, and really should have been mentioned there.
What a mess. I was now not just relieved, but SUPER relieved, that Silvia had the good sense to turn down my review. The only question in my mind was how I could ever dare to show my face to her in an editorial capacity again.
5. …But of course, since it was in her “to publish” folder, Silvia published the review (with some very minor edits) on April 22.
Since I don’t actually follow the Innsmouth Free Press blog, and since Silvia didn’t specifically inform me it was up, I didn’t hear about this until this afternoon, when some “Long Hidden” authors mentioned me on Twitter.
To my extremely large surprise, not only had they read the review, but they (at least the ones who mentioned me by my Twitter handle) were HAPPY about having read the review. They liked it! Sabrina Vourvoulias was flattered! No one, including Silvia, seemed to think it was actually the piece of condescending crap that I’d convinced myself I’d written.
My head then exploded into tiny pieces.
Was I in a parallel universe? No, I logged into my professional Gmail account and looked back at the review I had sent Silvia, and the reply was still “No, thank you.”
After a bit of confused flailing on Twitter, we figured out that 3 had happened, and I posted a comment to the review apologizing for & correcting the error in 4.
And that, I suppose was that, though I’m still twitching slightly waiting to see if something else happens.
TL;DR TAKEAWAY POINTS
1. I am apparently neurotic as fuck
2. Authors and indie editors are both groups of people with day jobs and other things going on. We sometimes get busy or tired or flustered. We make mistakes sometimes, we figure it out and fix them, it’s ok. (I will certainly be displeased if anyone uses this post as an excuse to be hard on Silvia. She’s running an entire publishing company in her spare time, and I fucked up a lot harder than she did.)
3. If the review as posted appears to have issues, that’s because it does.
4. However, if after all this you would still like to see the review, it (with my posted correction in the comments section) is here.